Computer Aided Drafting


sb_castironbase

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

I’ve just completed MEM30001A Use computer aided drafting systems to produce basic engineering drawings at TAFE, and uploaded eight class drawings to Flickr. This class is one unit in Certificate III in Computer Aided Drafting. When I have developed sufficient skills, I plan to use AutoCAD in stonemasonry training delivery.

CorelDRAW was my drawing program of choice. Before Easter this year, I prepared a series of PowerPoint slideshows using CorelDRAW11 to help my students draw simple geometry, but before the series could be completed, the classroom computer was re-imaged; CorelDRAW was removed, and replaced with Adobe Illustrator. With requests from a few employers and students about learning CAD in mind, I took this opportunity to request AutoCAD2008 for my ‘work’ laptop.

AutoCAD is a complex drawing program, and I soon realised that I couldn’t teach myself how to use it as I had done with CorelDRAW. Fortunately, the SkillsTech Engineering team was beginning an evening class at Eagle Farm, which meant that I could walk there once a week after work. SkillsTech Australia generously paid for my training (hence this report), and I attended in my own time.

I found that the weekly time slot imposed upon me a necessary discipline, but while I was motivated to attend, the effort to concentrate on a screen after 6pm taxed my eyes. I managed physical fatigue by taking regular short breaks and drinks of water.

The class is flexibly delivered, attended by between ten and twenty students of wide-ranging abilities, studying a variety of computer subjects. Although I sometimes had to wait for the teacher to finish with some other student before I could ask for assistance, it was worth while because of the high quality of his teaching ability. The program suited my learning style: being set a task, and provided with minimal instructions, I built on my existing knowledge by investigating the drafting tools available. The teacher regularly checked on my progress, often guiding me back onto the correct path from where I had drifted, pushing me to learn by demonstrating only what I needed to know, and asking me to repeat his steps. But before I felt overloaded with information, he always withdrew so I could consolidate my new knowledge.

Of course AutoCAD is different to CorelDRAW; consequently, I had to ‘unlearn’ several habits. It took me a long time to learn to select the ‘tool’ before selecting the drawing object on which it was to be used, likewise learning to read the ‘command’ line. As I continue into the next level (advanced engineering drawings) I’m now struggling with the concepts of “paper space” and “viewing ports.” I hope to complete the advanced level this year, and continue with three-dimensional CAD in 2009.

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