Friday, July 17, 2009

No Wonder My Professors Don't Want Us Using AutoCADD!!!!

I recently got hired at Howl O' Scream @ Busch Gardens, which is forcing me to move my Tuesday/Thursday 5:30-7:30 "Building Arts" class to an earlier time. Well, there is no earlier time, so I decided to try and sign up for the Intermediate AutoCAD class instead. When I did that, the computer told me I hadn't met the prerequisite of taking a "Beginning Technology Design" class.....BULLCRAP! I've already finished the Beginning AutoCAD class and taken an entire year of Architectural Design! I'm not computer illerate, I'm part of the millenial generation!!! Anyway, so I said "screw that, I'm CLEPing these exams," meaning I'm going to learn AutoCAD on my own and take the exam to just get the credit hours with no grade, which is fine by me.

Like I said, by now I've already taken a "Beggining AutoCAD" class and have figured out by now that this program has some serious flaws. Actually, let me back up. My PROFESSORS have some serious flaws. Both semesters of Architectural Design, my professors gave us a rule of NO AUTOCAD!!!! I understand the fundamentals behind learning to draw and such, but they wouldn't even let us have drawings AND AutoCAD renderings on our final presentations......ONLY drawings. I found this as somewhat shocking, since I had figured the primary tool in the design industry was AutoCAD. The last project I did, I REALLY needed some kind of design program to help me figure out the floor plans of my building. Since I didn't yet know how to use 3D AutoCAD, I downloaded google sketchup.

I'll start this paragraph off by saying GOOGLE SKETCHUP IS AWESOME. For a beginning architect student like myself, this program will teach you basic comands, let you play around with your creative ideas, and is also very fun and simple! After using this program, I began to think even more about how crappy AutoCAD seemed. I mean, I hadn't yet toyed with 3D AutoCAD, but I was already very frustrated with simple 2D, so I couldn't even imagine how angry I would get with 3D.

Anyway, returning back to the flaws of AutoCAD. The number one thing I have noticed with it is that it isn't intuitive....AT ALL. It doesn't know what I'm trying to tell it to do, where I'm trying to tell it to go, or how I'm trying to tell it to work. It has a mind of it's own. I'm guessing the reason behind this is because it isn't an object based program, but I could be wrong. The point is that a free program that google made is WAY more intuitive than a $3,000 program, and quite honestly, that can be frustrating to those who have already spent that huge wad of cash. I have gotten SO FRUSTRATED from trying to learn this program that I have slammed keyboards, mouses, banged computers, had to restart computers MANY TIMES, screamed, and CRIED for crying out loud! I sometimes feel like I should just rip the monitor right out of the computer and throw it out of the window!!!!

So, I went searching for something else. I tweeted how frustrated I usually am when using AutoCAD and someone replied telling me to try Revit because they understood the feeling. I've heard of Revit before from several profesors telling me that they only use Revit in their offices and that AutoCAD is on the way out the door. I decided to give this Revit a try. I then found a FREE educational download version which made me very happy and learned that AutoDesk is the same company that makes both Revit and AutoCAD. AutoDesk just keeping AutoCAD around for the old farts who can't learn new programs? Try this: Google "AutoCAD sucks." I get 178,000 results, 178,001 by the time I'm done. Now Google "Revit sucks," only 25,500. I think that alone says something.

So my question then becomes, WHY am I being taught AutoCAD and WHY is it a requirement to know the program before I transfer to a University for Architecture? If this thing is on the way out, shouldn't I be learning something that's on the way in? I guess I can't depend on the school board to figure this one out, so I suppose I'm teaching it to myself. Unfortunately I still have to CLEP both 2D and 3D AutoCAD exams to transfer to a University, but I'll do whatever it takes to get there, even if that requires learning a software programs that dinosaurs invented.

No wonder my professors don't want us using AutoCAD for Design Projects...


  1. Hey Bonnie, Best of luck in your revit ventures. Check out my revit tip of the day site if you need any help:

    You can also find me and many other helpful people in the chat room.

  2. Revit is awesome, learn it and you will be top of your class. Be warned however, once you've used it for a while, if you EVER try to use autocad arch desktop OR sketchup again you will cry and start throwing keyboards again. That being said sketchup (purchased not made by google) isn't really a professional architectural tool (although maybe firms insist on forcing it into this role) Enjoy your time with Revit and don't forget to play with some of the analysis programs too!

  3. Revit is the future. I switched and will never go back. That being said, you aren't waisting your time learning Autocad. It will remain to capture a large market share for some time (old farts). As an architect you will have to communicate with consultants, integrate their work with yours, etc. In the end knowing both Revit and AutoCad will be an asset when looking for employment and practing architecture. Good luck. Keep up the good work.

  4. Good luck with Revit! More and more students are going through a vrey similar story as yours. Let me know of any little speed bumps your might run into on the way and I will use them as videos on my blog.

    Just don't expect EVERYONE to be FOR Revit. There are still lots and lots of AutoCAD users.... sadly. Hopefully people like you and I will make that change.

  5. Thanks for all the helpful tips and info guys! Yeah, I will still HAVE to learn AutoCAD because I have to take all 3 levels at school in order to get my degree.

  6. Hello Bonnie,

    So you mind instead of providing a "rah rah" "go Revit" comment that I answer your question?

    What is this software used for? It's a way to communicate our design intent... which is both Design and Documentation. For the past 20-25 years AutoCAD has been the industry standard for documenting our architectural concepts to be built in the real world. Even if the industry is moving toward Revit, did you know the majority of the industry still does the majority of their projects in AutoCAD? Also, did you know that Revit also provides you the ability to draft in 2D...and most of your details, etc would be documented in that program this way? Another factor, just because Revit is catching on does not mean you will not someday work for a firm that uses ArchiCAD, Vectorworks, or AutoCAD Architecture... all software that currently has more seats sold in the world than Revit.

    Point being... if you understand AutoCAD you'll be able to talk the language of the people that will someday hire you. You'll still develop the 2D documentation skills required regardless of the company that eventually hires you. Also, the company that hires you would like you to understand software, but they can teach you the software enough to be competent in just a few days, the ability to communicate and understand 2 dimensional documentation on the other hand will be vital to your success and something they will not want to teach... and 2D documentation will still be here for many more years.

    Now it's important to know I'm not an AutoCAD addict. My job: I train architectural firms various software for an Autodesk reseller and have used Revit for 3-1/2 years. I have been a BIM & CAD manager and I have my degree in Architecture. I started as a draftsman by hand and have used AutoCAD for this being my 20 year anniversary. Point being.. there are not many people that are bigger advocates of Revit than myself, but software is just a way to communicate your knowledge. By requiring you to understand AutoCAD they are ensuring that each student has the same base knowledge level going into the program, thus making it easier to teach you what really matters... and it isn't Revit. I could train a 13 year old to use the program ( actually, I HAVE taught a 13 year old to use Revit and my 7 year old can draw walls, doors, and windows in it) but to teach Architectural Practice is the goal of the university. They need each student to have certain skill sets coming in (understanding basic design communication practices and tools) and AutoCAD is a perfect program to allow this... using programs like Revit is simply the next step.

  7. I agree with you Brian. I just feel like Universities should offer MORE. The only design programs taught for engineering/architecture is autoCAD at my college. I wish I could take a class for Revit or any of the other programs you mentioned. I also downloaded 2010 AutoCAD today because I understand I DO need to learn it further than I have. Hopefully I can get it all down =)

  8. Bonnie,

    If you want a deeper understanding of the software, try checking into a community college. I went to one for architectural technology, and they had many great classes using computer aided drafting & design (CADD) programs. Firms have been using AutoCad successfully for many years. So, don't think the program is pointless/worthless just because you're having issues with it.

    Remember, these are the tools of your chosen trade. You need to learn how to use these tools to communicate your design. If you are unable to communicate your design, you'll not be a very successful architect. You'll get out of the hours of training, what you put into it. A closed mind is a one of the worst things in the world.

    Best of luck.

    P.S. don't take out your frustrations on the monitor, that's like shooting the messenger.

  9. Hi Bonnie,
    I'd thought I'd let you know what they offer up here in Wisconsin. If you went to UW-Milwaukee, you won't find a class for Revit, Autocad, sketch-up, get the idea. You're expected to figure it out on your own. How you get your ideas across to the Prof, is up to you. They don't care how you made the picture, just they it was correct and you had some design thought put to it.
    Be glad they are teaching you how to use the tool. Autocad, Revit, ACA whatever you choose to use, is nothing more that a pencil. What kind of pencil and how you sharpen it won't make any difference when you make the copies on 30x42 paper.

  10. I do go to a community college and all they offer is CAD classes. I really do understand that I need to learn a lot about all of these programs, and trust me, I'm working on it, lol. Some just seem WAY more difficult and frustrating than they need to be. I wish my professors didn't care about HOW we draw the design, because I see that as an opportunity to further my experience with CAD, Revit, whatever, but we HAVE TO draw our presentations. So, i'm taking an AutoCAD class at the same college that won't let me use it? lol, it just seems very ironic to me.

  11. Haha. Familiar situation, although I've been working with AutoCad for about 2 years. I recently began to realize all the shortcomings. When I'm working in AutoCad I try allways to work with closed polylines, so it would feel/work more like an object based program. Very time consuming to manually fit and close these things. I find making blocks too troublesome.
    So I also started learning Revit and I actually find it pretty straight forward. Furthermore I fully agree with Brian Myers, so it's best if ya put you back into it.

    Good luck with Revit, AutoCad and on the University of Architecture.

  12. Bonnie,

    When I went to my community college, we were not allowed to touch CADD the first semester either. I was able to take what I learned in classes, plus the additional time spent in labs to hone my skills in CADD (70+ hr/wk @ school). There may be an issue with the structure of your college that you should look into changing. My college has a committee of local professionals & previous graduates, working to always make the program better for the students. If your college doesn't have something like this, maybe they should.


    Closed polylines are very easy to correct. Ctrl +1 to bring up the properties side bar, then quick select all polylines. Under the properties of those Plines, there is a 'Closed' parameter. Change it to yes. You may be experiencing this issue, because you're unit's aren't set high enough to accurately draft, or poor drafting practices. Take your pick.