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Autodesk Certified Professional

(President/Founder of Summit View Design, Inc.)

Local newspaper picture from 1986.

John's story...

John has been working in the civil/survey field for the better part of the last two decades. Before that, he got his start in forestry, having obtained a BS Degree in Natural Resource Management at Rutgers University. Much of his forestry time was spent doing field data collection with the USDA Forest Service NE Forest Experiment Station. While in that position, he took measurements in northern New England that were analyzed first in a field office in Massachusets and finally in the main office in Pennsylvania. His experience there helped to sensitize him to many of the issues and concerns inherent to field data collection. After a winter working as a volunteer in White Mountain National Forest and stint as a consulting forester in the south, he chose to take his knowledge and apply it to the survey field in his home area of Northern New Jersey.

Beginning in field positions, first as an instrument person and then as a party chief, it became apparent to him that many of the same issues he dealt with in forest measurements applied readily to the civil/survey field. Regardless of the discipline, there was still the same need for effective planning, communication and documentation between field and office.

After returning to N. J., John began taking courses at the NJ Institute of Technology and at Bergen Community College in pursuit of a BS in Survey Technology. Besides survey courses like Route Design and Analysis, Geodetic Surveying and Aerial Photo Interpretation & Remote Sensing, he also took courses at Bergen in Business Law, Legal Research & Writing and 2 semesters of AutoCad.

It was the AutoCad training that constituted a turning point in John's life. His prior computer experience was mostly with mainframes using Fortran and non-graphic cogo programs. He immediately recognized the power of CADD as a mapping tool. However, another thing became quickly apparent to him. In his class, he was the only survey oriented person. Most everyone else came from mechanical and architectural disciplines. It was up to him to take what he learned and apply it to his field. His teacher, although excellent in his field and at AutoCad, could not do much more than be sympathetic and supportive.

Around this time, John began working as a AutoCad operator/technician. Not long after completing his AutoCad training he had a rare opportunity for someone working in a survey firm. His company was doing mapping for a large Pharmecutical Firm and needed to do 3-dimensional drawings of the chemical pipe trenches in one of their facilities. This allowed John to apply his 3D training while it was still fresh in his mind, thus firming up his abilities in these advanced CADD techniques. Also he began to link to a database using the AutoCad SQL Extension(ASE) to create a survey task tracking system for the plant.

Still, John saw that the way AutoCad and its major add on, Softdesk, were being used was vastly inefficient. This was especially apparent in small and medium sized firms that either did not have the budget or did not understand the potential for CADD returning their investment if used correctly. In his own words, "It's like a farmer pulling a brand new 4 wheel drive pickup truck with a team of mules." Since they were not utilizing it properly, the value was not apparent. Many resented having to buy the software in order to compete. They were comfortable with their older survey programs. Furthermore, many mistakes were being made because either the surveyors did not understand AutoCad or the technicians they hired did not know survey. The firm that hired him for his first AutoCad position placed ads both under "Survey" and "drafting." They said that it was hard to find someone who was proficient in both. Applicants answering the survey ad knew little about AutoCad and vice-versa.

He also began to observe that there was a very dangerous knowledge-gap forming between field and office personel. In the days of hand notes and drafting it was easier to orient new personel. A new party chief could be assigned to the office to do reductions and pencil drafts until he had a better feel for what was needed. Conversely, although not as typical, an office tech could be temporarily assigned to a survey party. With the dawn of automatic data collection and computer drafting this could not be done as much, especially if new employees did not have a computer background. Also, the separate positions of office tech. and draftsperson became one. In many firms, much of the valuable documentation procedures that had been done in the days of hand notes had not been transferred to the data collection procedures. In many cases, field sketches were not even done.

Another aspect of the problem involved the way it was being used in Civil design firms. They don't seem to understand that the second "D" in CADD is for design. Often, base maps of existing conditions were printed out and the engineering staff would do the design by hand even though they had Softdesk right in the office. Doing that virtually negates everything that is gained from having the program.

In 1995 he began teaching AutoCad at night at the Sussex County Technology Center. In his classes he began to see local surveyors and civil engineers who had enrolled, many in a desperate attempt to fill the gaps in their knowledge of AutoCad. He tried, whenever possible, to point out ways in which various procedures and commands would apply to their field, but because he had a responsibility to all the students present, he could not go into the depth he would have preferred. He often made references to many of the add-on programs for AutoCad including Softdesk. Many of his students from all disciplines began asking for more detailed instructions at their places of employment.

Encouraged by this, John established Summit View Design, Inc. to do AutoCad Drafting and design as well as to provide training in both AutoCad and Softdesk. John feels that his main strength is his survey background both in the field and in the office. He can add a perspective that many other instructors can't in regards to surveying and civil engineering. He is also highly proficient in 3D drafting, solid modeling and rendering. He has been instructing and doing design for civil firms as well as those involved in mechanical design. Clients

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