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GIS Specialist Looking for Advice on Advancing Skills with CAD Software

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#1
GIS SFL

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Here's a little background information on myself: I currently work for an engineering consulting firm that specializes in transmission line routing and siting. I work for their environmental division and have almost three years of professional experience in GIS (two years in the utility/environmental industry and one year in transportation). With that said, I work with various data types and am looking for a way to continue advancing my knowledge and skills to become a more complete GIS professional.

Recently, it came to my attention that my company was offering a CAD course bundle. We work with a decent amount of CAD data, not always on a daily basis, but to the point where I have become comfortable with integrating CAD data (.dwg/.dgn) into our GIS. I think as I have become more comfortable with CAD data I have grown a strong interest for learning more about the data and its software. Therefore, I think the CAD course being offered is a great opportunity for not only myself, but my GIS group as a whole.

Yet, I have some reservations when it comes to taking this course and it mainly has to deal with the fact that my group rarely works with our engineers and drafters/designers. I often work with our biologists and archaeologists on the environmental side and although we are required to know how to work with and manipulate CAD data, we rarely ever have to design a CAD file in AutoCAD or MicroStation. In addition, I decided to ask the veterans of my GIS group what they thought of the CAD course and I got a lot of mixed responses. One co-worker thought it was a great opportunity, but left it at that and others claimed it would be a waste of their time. As their consensus was that they believed their minds could only store so much information and to try and learn another software would cause them to forget more GIS centered tasks. This was coming from people with at least an average of eight years of GIS experience.

Although their thoughts may be true in some regard, I still believe this is a great opportunity to expand my technical skills and delve into different projects at work. Especially, when downtime occurs on environmental projects and this may allow us to branch out and work more with our engineering/CAD department and build a stronger relationship. As we could in turn show them how useful GIS can be with their project work.

So, I am asking for any comments/advice on learning new software. Obviously, CAD and GIS are related technologies, but it is going to be challenging to learn new software and concepts and I would greatly appreciate any feedback, as I feel that a lot can be learned when others come together and share their thoughts.

(FYI: I have no CAD software experience; I have spoken to my GIS manager about this and he appears to be on board, but is a little hesitant since it is not a GIS course; The programs offered are mainly Autodesk software: AutoCAD, Map 3D, Civil 3d, Raster Design, Architecture, Revit Structure, and Bentley MicroStation is included as well)

I want to thank all who took the time to read this and apologize for somewhat rambling on.

Edited by GIS SFL, 09 June 2012 - 01:00 AM.


#2
spg

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If you have the opportunity, learn it.

Unfortunately you will probably forget most of it if you don't use it often, but on the plus side it won't take long for you to remember it either. It WILL be useful when dealing with engineering groups and could be a good opportunity to spend some time talking to them as well, building those relationships. Not only that but you may be able to come up with some improvements to the current workflow - designing a better CAD file standard for example to make the data better/faster to integrate. If you need to sell it to a manager I would approach from that angle, you may have a great system currently but it can always be reviewed right?

Learning another software package will require that you actually use it as much as possible, best thing to do is come up with some sort of project that you can do in conjunction with the training. You may be able to get something from engineering or come up with your own, the key is that you a) generate something that is actually useful, and has a deliverable time frame and B) get to immerse yourself in the software at least part of the day to really get to grips with it.

#3
razornole

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As a cartographer, I utilize CAD about 2 or 3 times a year. With those jobs I am very glad that I know enough about CAD to clunk my way through it and get the data into a GIS environment. You don't have to master the program, but just know enough about how it operates. As SPG mentioned, it can improve your workflow.

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#4
GIS SFL

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Thanks to you both for the great advice! I think the points mentioned are very true and it would be beneficial for me to learn new software. It is also a great idea to try and integrate the new software into some of my current projects. Thanks again for the reassurance!!




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