Sunday, March 30, 2014

Life of a Saluki Architecture Grad Student

By John Svast

Hello Readers!!
I have a problem… well… more like a pet peeve.
A few days ago I was diligently working in the architecture graduate studio here at the wonderful world of Southern Illinois University when I heard the gentle rapping on the studio door.  I swiftly got up and answered the door to a couple of architecture undergraduates seeking the help of a couple grad students they had spoken to earlier about help with a program called sketch-up, a program that is used often in the design profession.  Since I was the lone ranger in studio at the time, these young scholars asked me if I had any experience using Sketch up.  Fortunately, I have been using sketch-up since 2005 ,while attending College of Dupage, in my design process and also professionally while working for two other architecture firms, so I felt I was qualified to help these individuals with some questions they had.

SO!... up to their studio I went.

I perched behind undergraduate #1 and readied myself for the issue at hand.

The problem was one that is common among architect design students.  A group was chosen and tasked with the responsibility of putting a base model of the site with existing context and topography together for the class to use as a plug-in for their individual building designs.

What was this student’s question?

Undergrad #1 “heard” there was a plug-in application that would magically do all the work for him.  How great does that sound?  One do-it-all application that can solve every single problem for you with one mash of a sweaty palm?… well I digress.   
I told #1 that it may be possible that someone has gone out of their way to write said application that would give you all the topography lines in DWG. format, and if it did exist, it would probably be found on a website called (Great website BTW)  BUT! The lines given to you via google earth are not the most reliable CAD lines you can get, you should really find an actual topo map and import the image of the map into autocadd and trace over the topo lines.
#1 reply:  “I know that”
The next Item of business he wanted was to import the already designed buildings from google earth and bring them into his model for context.  Once again, I said there may be a plugin for that located on the website but instead of searching for a plugin to half solve your problem, let me tell you of a few other ways to solve this problem. I told him all the different ways I was taught by various professors and other licensed architects at different firms over the course of 10 years I have been kicking around in this profession.
#1 reply:  “I know that”
I then went on to tell him (I get a little preachy here… I do that sometimes) that school is an excellent place to hone your skills and that you shouldn’t always pick the easy way out of a design problem with technology gizmos (especially in school… you are here to learn the skills) because when he gets hired onto a firm, he will be given some task that will have to be solved with his skills on various computer programs and actual *gasp!* paper and pencil.  I told him of a few tight jams I got into on issues dealing with building context and topography lines and the ways I solved them.
#1 reply:  “I know that”
#1 then went on to ask me how to spell the word “sketchucation”… I showed him how to navigate to the website and went on my merry way.

This story is just one of many times I have experienced a student working harder trying to find an easy button then do the work.
Don’t be scared to put in the time!  You are more valuable as an employee that can quickly accomplish a task with the skills you have sharpened on the job and at school then someone who has to rely on gadgets, gizmos, and applications to complete tasks.

let me guess… “I know that”
photo of and by author

1 comment:

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