November 10, 2013 at 1:29 am #153778Dereatha CrossParticipant
The amount of focus on each program varies. For example an entire semester is dedicated to learning Civil 3D. Where Premiere is a one day crash course. Dreamweaver, a one day crash course, gives their students the ability to market their work. The delivery of the content is in both video and written text to cater to different learning styles and is comprehensive compared to what can be delivered in a lab setting. Their technology courses are all labs so they get to sit in front of a computer and actual do. They are also given extra material for further exploration. Even after they graduate they continue to have access to this content. There are other courses offered at Kansas State University such as their Design Implementation series, a 3 cr/hr course, spanning 3 semesters. They get to take their base knowledge of Civil 3D and apply it to do more advanced tasks such as road alignment, mass haul, etc. In regular design studio they have the option to experiment with technology in their workflows.November 10, 2013 at 1:38 am #153777Dereatha CrossParticipant
The classes are labs that run in duration of 2 to 3 hours a week. The structure of the course is setup to where they watch videos to learn the basics before they come to lab and when they are in lab they apply it to some design problem. They learn just enough to where if they wanted to learn more they could. Resources are given to them so they can go beyond what was covered in lab. In this year’s Design Intelligence, the collegiate program that hiring firms deemed the strongest in educating for each skill area, under computer applications area Kansas State University’s Landscape Architecture program ranked 3rd.November 11, 2013 at 8:39 am #153776
The situation is similar in Australia. The level of CAD knowledge that new LA graduates have varies wildly and those that are pretty competent are largely self taught.
I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that the LA course will output LA’s who are also great at AutoCAD. LA is the primary focus of the course and so it should be. To also fit the amount of AutoCAD tuition into the course timeframe is not feasible.
We have employed a few graduates from an architectural drafting course that is 2 years full-time. They had the basics but still needed a lot of work getting up to speed with working to our CAD standards and what was required at each phase of the documentation process.
The best model in my opinion is for the students to get a good grounding in the LA course with some investment of their own time to learn as much as they can. Then when they graduate to learn on the job. Hopefully the firm has a CAD manager who can fast-track their CAD knowledge.
Paul StaffordNovember 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm #153775
Look at the ASLA job postings. Like it or not, AutoCAD is, more often than not, the point of entry into this profession. Internships are not a company’s way to give back to the LA community. It is a way to fill a need in the office. That need is almost always about plan production. While most firms still create wonderful hand renderings, it is a small part of the production of deliverables. The vast majority is done in AutoCAD. They don’t need new hires to render, the seasoned people in the office will do that. Being a CAD Jockey is the ticket to admission as an intern just like having good hand drafting and rendering skills were 30 years ago when ALL plans were done by hand.
All other skills are great and are the key to advancing in the field, but you still need to get through the door. Filling a production need is more often than not the reason to hire. If you can’t fit that role, you’ll be passed by for someone who can.
Why would any LA program not prepare its students to easily enter a firm? Like it or not, if you are not “proficient” or “fluent” (right out of the job postings on ASLA jobs board) you are extremely limited in entry level positions available to you.November 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm #153774
I guess it depends on your definition of “proficient” or “fluent”. From my experience I’ve not seen any new grads who are proficient to the point that they could start producing construction documentation from day one. I’m not an LA – I’m a CAD person working with LA’s. Part of it is learning their way around AutoCAD, part is learning what is required at each phase of documentation and part of it is learning what is actually needed to construct something in the real world.
I think it’s a vast subject that could easily be 2 years full-time to prepare them for delivering AutoCAD documentation. Let alone learning how to design and the other subject matter required in the LA courses. I’m not sure what the qualifications are of the lecturers are who are teaching the AutoCAD courses. I would suggest that unless these lecturers are currently working in the industry producing AutoCAD documentation then they might not be up with the current methods.November 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm #153773CalicoParticipant
Andrew, I think that there is a bit of a disconnect between what firms hiring entry level say that they want vs. the talent they actually acquire. Most firms hiring anybody advertise that they demand somebody fresh out of school who is a rock star in every category, from amazing design abilities to solid understanding of construction to proficiency in intimate knowledge of every program imaginable to incredible attention to detail with an eye on the big picture. What they settle for most of the time – unless they are willing to pay a lot more for somebody with a lot of experience – is a new hire who has a passing knowledge / understanding of all of the above, and hopefully the ability to learn. New grads are generally pretty clueless, not that there’s anything wrong with that. We were all there once. While I want anybody entering the profession to have a clue with regard to drawing electronically, it’s easier for a firm to teach that than the other stuff. Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great that schools like K-State have embraced technology, and I am sure they will continue to do so. My point is that the technology component within a new hire’s set of skills is nothing more than pieces and parts in a toolbox.November 11, 2013 at 5:20 pm #153772AnonymousInactive
I learned AutoCAD (and Photoshop) as an entry-level planner on the job from a senior co-worker who had two degrees from K-State.. He was amazing at both software programs. Looking back, I was very spoiled in that regard. About 6 years ago, I considered pursuing an MLA and visited several graduate programs, including UGA. I was extremely inquisitive about the CAD training. From what little I remember it was a rudimentary course in CAD, I think, but students were not responsible for cranking out CDs in school.
I agree with Andrew. AutoCAD is a point of entry into the profession and will drastically increase your chances of landing an entry-level landscape designer position. Since landscape architecture programs (BLAs, MLAs, etc.) are really tailored towards professional practice (versus academia for academia) I think there should be a stronger emphasis on AutoCAD. Faculty devote a considerable chunk of their time training students. As a designer I devote a considerable chunk of my time doing billable work. I am not expecting entry-level (and certainly not interns) to know EVERYTHING about AutoCAD on the first day on the job. However, it would greatly help me if the learning curve (which can take 5-6 months if not longer if you throw in graphics communication) could be reduced if faculty devoted far more time to teaching the intricacies of AutoCAD.November 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm #153771
Calico, I think you are right. The point that I was trying to make is that it appears that an AutoCAD station is going to be the first place to land when being hired at an entry level. I’m not saying that all have to be rock stars, but it is a mistake to bypass it as being insignificant while going through school. …. just like hand graphics would have been 30 years ago.November 12, 2013 at 6:02 am #153770Goustan BODINParticipant
You make a good point, though I feel you limit our profession to working in ‘firms’. This could be the majority of jobs, but by far not limited to that, at least not in Europe where planning and gov agencies hire lots of LAs that will not spend most of their times on autocad.
Then, i will repeat that autocad is just one software amongst many, so limiting education to learning just that software is tantamount to having state limiting competition between different companies, thus favoring a monopoly situation, and is illegal.November 12, 2013 at 8:04 am #153769
I think in an ideal world the LA professional bodies, the education institutions and a panel of LA’s should work together to determine what the requirements are for a particular region/city/country. They will obviously vary from country to country but possibly from city to city. This would maybe be an ideal outcome though probably hard to implement.
Just to play devils advocate…if you agree to the premise that the level of AutoCAD (or whatever software(s) is deemed necessary) class time is less than required in the LA courses, then should:
1. the length of the course (and cost) increases to accommodate more software time?
2. the length of the course stay the same but the ratio of LA to software class time change? ie LA decrease and software increase?
3. the length of the course stay the same but the class hours (and cost) increase?
From what I’ve heard from new grads in Australia the amount of AutoCAD class time is 5-10% maximum. So based on 20 hours class time per week is 1 – 2 hours AutoCAD class time.
From my experience with training new grads in AutoCAD the class time should be 5-10 hours per week taught by someone from the LA industry who is still actively producing construction documentation on a regular basis.
Paul StaffordNovember 12, 2013 at 9:13 am #153768Goustan BODINParticipant
I don’t feel qualified to estimate how many hours students should spend on a software. LAs working in the academic field might have better advise than mine.
Though, when I read that you recommend 5-10hrs/week, over the cours of 4-6 yrs, I wonder what else you expect students to learn ? Someone previously talked of Cad monkeys, and I feel that’s what you’d get for it.
Are we talking about architecture/LA schools here, or technical schools ? Are we talking about LAs or draftmen ?
Sorry, but skills and knowledge LAs need are so numerous that I wouldnt waste precious university time on teaching a software.November 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm #153767
Who is talking about limiting software to autocad or limiting ourselves to working for firms? The only limitation right now is the number of opportunities to enter the field. Not having the skill set that that is the primary function of most entry level positions is further limiting. What you can do once you get into the profession may not involve CAD at all or the career path you choose may not involve working for firms, but if you need one, two, or three years of working under a licensed LA in order to get licensed your opportunities to get that entry level job is very limited without a good AutoCAD skill set.
There is a difference between making sure students are functional in AutoCAD as part of their training and limiting their education to just being a CAD monkey. It is not an “either/or” situation. It is just one aspect of what students should know as they enter into the profession. It should not displace other learning.
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