CAD Myths Clarified

Being a formally educated designer and having been providing architectural/construction drafting services to design professionals for over a decade, I find most people, even professionals in the industry, are not clear about CAD (Computer Aided Drafting).
CAD is the way to design.
CAD is a production and communication tool, not a design tool.
CAD is faster.
CAD does produce clean and accurate documents and can be efficient in revisions. But the quality depends on the person using the program.
Manual Drafting and Sketching are outdated.
Manual drafting and sketching are activities directly connected to our brains. Studies show students taking notes by hand in class generally do better compared to students taking notes with their laptops.
In general, people don’t respect the profession of CAD drafting. Even drafters don’t have pride in this line of work. Good CAD drafters are not just computer program operators. They are an essential part of every successful projects. A drafter, CAD or manual, must understand design and construction and how things ae made.
After getting my B.A. in Art with emphasis in interior design and a few year of work experience, I spent 2 semesters (30 hours per week for 40 weeks) to complete the CAD certification program. With the skilled I learned, I was able to work with architects and designers on high-end projects and gain experience. I have invested a lot of time and effort. I get asked often, but I really don’t know how to learn CAD in a short time.
CAD programs does offer many advantages. BIM (Building Information Modeling) and other 3D programs enable us to study the design closely and communicate effectively with the entire team. But what we have neglected is continue to strengthen our fundamental skills such as simply using pencil and paper.
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[Project] Joy of Being Grandparents

After the arrival of their first grandchild and another one on the way, the clients felt it was time to renovate their home built in the 1950’s to become a gathering place for the growing family.  The goal was to enlarge the dining room and open up the kitchen.
After surveying the property and studied the clients’ desires, I suggested reducing the size of the intended addition for better use of interior and exterior space and flow of the roof line. The open kitchen would have a eating bar and flow with the enlarged dining room. With the new sliding doors in the dining room, and the enlarged window in the living room, the outdoor area would be connected with the indoors.

Preliminary Design Sketches

Upon finalizing the design, I proceeded to creating the documents both for obtaining the building permit and interior details. Once the plans were approved by the city, and we discussed my recommendations and resources for products and materials, I was off the project. With provided guidelines, the clients were happy to do their own shopping and purchasing. The general contractor is a family friend. Nothing for me to worry.

Interior Drawings

For City Approval

I was invited back when the project was finished. I was not surprised with the outcome because it followed my design. The joy on my clients’ faces were priceless. They enjoyed every part of transforming their home. They had a large crowd of over 20 people for the holidays, and it did not feel cramped. The clients are looking forward to spending time with the grandchildren in the ‘new home’.

What Do I Do For A Living?

I posted a short online survey asking people what I do for a living. I only got 4 (heart-warming) responses:
Maker of fine tea bags, interior designer and space planner, freelance autoCAD or technical drawings for other designers
Designer
Drafting design
Beautiful interior/deco design
I wasn’t too surprised how few people responded. I am glad to see “design” appeared in every answer. (A friend wrote ‘guardian angel’ on my Facebook. That was so sweet! But I can’t do it for a living.)
I had been struggling with explaining my job. “Designer” sounds very vague. I have not perfected my “elevator speech”. After all these years, my name has been going around as this “good CAD drafter”. I am uncomfortable being defined to by the tools I use. I am not just a CAD technician/operator. I am a professional designer skilled and experienced in the art of drafting. CAD programs are tools I use to enhance my presentation and documentation.
My blog article back in 2012 ‘MICHELLE CHIANG’ is A Brand still describes how I feel about what I do. My job titles depend on what I want to “sell”. It’s time to rework my business mission statement and “menu”. It is more about what I want to do, rather than what I can do.

SketchUp Course at West Valley Occupational Center

Course Description:
The course is designed to enhance professional designers’ ability to envision and communicate their projects using the SketchUp program.

Course Length:
Tuesday, April 22 – Thursday, Jun 5
(This is the 1st attempt of this type of course catering to working professionals. The regular semester is 20 weeks long.)

Course Setup:
Open Lab: 9 am – 2 pm, Monday – Friday
Lectures/Discussions: 9:15 am – 11:30 am, Tuesdays & Thursdays
Participants will have access to the classroom and equipment during open lab hours. It is important to attend the lectures/discussions. Tuesdays will be for exploring ideas and deciding on learning objectives and Thursdays will be for actual demos. The first 5 weeks will have lectures and discussions. The final 2 weeks will be for project productions and reviews.

Location:
West Valley Occupational Center, Room 304
6200 Winnetka Avenue, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
818-346-3540 – school phone

Registration: 
Course fee: $100 (additional fees: $5 student ID card)
Course Section/Title: 709 CAD/Upgrade
Instructor: Julian Inchaurregui
Instructor’s approval required for registration. Please come meet the instructor prior to registration.
Course Outline & Details

Warning: This is not a course for those who want to learn the craft of CAD drafting and become drafting professionals. 


Working with architects and interior designers, I often hear how the professionals would like to utilize SketchUp more for their businesses. Finally, there is a 7-week program for design professionals to learn practical SketchUp skills to enhance their design presentations.

Why SketchUp?

  • SketchUp works on both PC and Mac.
  • SketchUp has a free version.
  • SketchUp Pro is less than $600 for 1 license; affordable compared to other CAD programs.
  • SketchUp is easy to learn. No CAD experience required.

Here are some benefits design professionals can gain from this course:

  • Learn SketchUp through a structured and organized curriculum.
  • Produce simple 3D presentations for client meetings.
  • Make quick and minor changes to SketchUp models prepared by a drafting professional.
  • Develop better understanding of CAD and other presentation programs to communicate and collaborate with drafting professionals.

 

9 Tips to Thrive in the Real World

1. Be Healthy

2. Be Professional

3. Be Sincere and Compassionate

4. Set Goals

5. Keep Improving

6. Promote Your Strength

7. Be Unique and Memorable

8. Build a Support System

9. Offer Help & Give Back

Last year, I was invited to be a guest speaker at two different classes in two different schools. I felt I could do a little more than just talking about my personal story. I got inspired to put together the 9 tips above. I feel strongly about each of the tips. So, after the two presentations, this gets a permanent spot here on my blog.