Today, the drafting tables have become extinct and the term “drafter” has fallen out of favor. With the explosion of computing power and capability come a whole range of new specializations. Now much of the staff at an engineering or architecture (and countless other) firms are populated by modeling specialists, BIM specialist, IPD consultants, CAD Managers, and many other positions that help to facilitate the amazing design work of the 21st Century.
Among these new positions that is becoming more common in the design world is the CAD Coordinator. While it is a nascent role, all manner of design firms can find the benefit of a role that is filled with staff who with deep production experience under their belts while stepping into the administrative role. After more than 25 years of working with AutoCAD and as a CAD Manager for many years, I have stepped into this CAD Coordinator role myself.
“A CAD manager is a high-level production staff member whose responsibility goes beyond ‘drawing’ to include some tech support, staffing, and quality control in addition to production work.”
The role of the CAD Coordinator shares a great deal with that of a CAD Manager largely because the move from “manager” to “coordinator” is a natural progression in many firms. The key differences between the roles are that it is rare for a CAD Coordinator to be involved in production work. The reason for this being that the role of CAD Coordinator is largely one based in the world of administration.
While a CAD Manager is immersed in the exact nuances of all production projects (i.e., knowing who is working on what and at what stage of completion it is), a CAD Coordinator must take a more holistic view of an organization’s design production capability.
A coordinator must trade in a redline inbox for an email inbox full of vendor and support correspondence. Where a manager focuses on drawing cohesion, a coordinator must focus on the overarching production related issues such as CAD standard creation and implementation. While managers have the responsibility of production timelines, coordinators work to ensure that production in a firm never stops. All of this while working hand in hand with corporate managers and the C-suite to plan future improvements and even policy and career path crafting.
Regardless of these differences, it should be clear that the position of CAD Coordinator relies on the skills and experience built through years of production experience and the role of a CAD Manager.
A Day in the Life
So, what is the day of a CAD Coordinator like? Well, let me share with you a recent Monday that was very typical. I think that you will see many correlations to your own day while maybe seeing some aspects you would like to be involved with.
7:30 – Reply to emails. Review help desk tickets for urgent items. Review proposal from vendor for equipment in new office location.
8:30 – Timesheet. Yes, even overhead staff members must fill out timesheets.
9:00 – Return phone calls and discuss CAD standards with CAD Manager from branch office.
9:30 – Check license management software.
10:00 – Call to IT Services to discuss upcoming conference call as well as issues with CAD workstation.
10:30 – Remote support for staff member requiring training on digital seals and correct file naming procedure.
11:30 – Server file maintenance to prepare for software upgrades.
1:00 – Web conference call with vendor regarding new project manager software package.
2:00 – Call with CAD staff member to discuss concerns and career advice.
2:30 – Urgent help desk ticket regarding malfunctioning plotter.
3:30 – Edit new CAD best practices document.
4:30 – Go home. I’m free!
7:00 – Remote installation of CAD software upgrades.
9:30 – Go to bed. I’m free again!
The CAD Coordinator role is one that requires a great deal of experience in several of different arenas. From communication to project management there are many skill sets at play. Key among the skills needed to move from the world of production to administration are communication and adaptability. While it is a role that requires a certain amount of initiative and perseverance, it is often also one that rewards you with satisfaction and the impact that you have on the success of the company.
Curt is an Autodesk certified CAD professional working in the Civil Engineering industry as a CAD manager and trainer. He has 20 years of experience with a variety of CAD applications, specializing in AutoCAD and other Autodesk products. Working with CAD has taken Curt all over the south coast of America, out to the continental shelf working with the offshore oil industry and other interesting locations such as NASA. Currently Curt is working to improve his skills in Map 3D and Revit Architecture. When Curt is not working he enjoys spending time with friends, his horses and the Kung Fu Dog. He also enjoys relaxing activities such as writing, old television shows, and reading.
Curt currently lives in Houston, Texas and works in Sugar Land, Texas.