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New Technology in the Civil Design Process

One of the great difficulties in being a creative-minded Civil Engineer is the limitations imposed by convention, drawing standards and, of course, the tools used to produce drawings. The change over from hand-drawn masterpieces to multiple revisions of average work has taken a toll on the creativity of the industry. Average subdivisions are being output by average engineering departments on a daily basis, pushed by the whims of a client and a push for more detailed designs with higher accuracy at an earlier stage of design, to satisfy the departments and municipalities that nothing could go wrong, as if that were really a possibility!

Planners are often at the front end of design, and are having to get caught up in technology, as the detailed design process gets driven further and further to the front end, at the conceptual stage.

Plan It Autodesk

Land planners need to effectively communicate their design intent in a digital environment without losing the creativity afforded them by their colored pencils and trace paper. After nearly 30 years of PC-based drawing automation this issue remains as one of the clear dividing lines between artist and engineer.

subdivisionSo what do you do as an Engineer or designer? Can you be proud of how drawings look as well as the content they contain? Many clients today need drawings to convey some emotion, either to convince non-technical staff in municipalities, or even as a type of sales plan to prospective buyers. Traditionally, planners have done these conceptual drawings by hand, and many still do. Is Autocad being adopted for this purpose in your business? In a couple of days I’m going to review some software by Autodesk that may be the answer for many professionals wanting the “hand-drawn” look for some drawings, but with a truly technical basis for the design.

On another note from the same link above, technology as seen in this short video may be the solution, (advertisement runs for a few seconds first). With massive improvements in graphics, speed and intuitive whole of body navigation, many tasks relegated to the desktop can now be performed at the wall level.

After viewing the video, do you see any benefit in this technology for your workflow, design, CAD and GIS processes? I can see things might be a bit more fun and interactive, maybe this is how people felt when they could move a mouse around the screen for the first time.

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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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