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Technically Training Engineers

Who loves training? Who loves training other people?

In my last job I spent the final few weeks attempting to pass on much of my knowledge of the design software and methods we use onto several EITs, (junior engineers).  This had been slow coming, mainly due to job requirements, and timings with other commitments. But finally we got there.  The guys got in and learnt some of subdivision design in 12D software.

When organising technical training, not everyone picks up things at the same speed, or in the same ways.  Some people can pick up software quickly with a couiple of pointers and the help files, other people learn by asking questions, others learn primarily by observing. All people gain from parts of each type of learning, and that’s why when training its a good idea to try to incorporate each method.  But first things first… preparing.

The hardest part of the process is definitely preparing myself. The ability to spend time working through what needs to be taught, how many sessions it will take and how I’m going to get these guys up to a standard where they can run. 
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Roughly in accordance with the Manager Tools Training Method these are my steps:

Devise – Prepare your training, get all the material you are presenting and have any reference materials ready as well for questions or bonus time. Set the time and the place and make sure all the required equipment (computers, projectors etc) is available.
Describe the skill –  This always comes first, this is where I hand out my training notes, charts, council codes,
Demonstrate – I always try to show them the processes of design in this step.  This takes a lot of effort to separate out the describing and demonstrating of the process.
Dipstick – This is the bit I like most, where as the trainer I get to test or “dipstick” the performance of the junior engineers.
Debrief – Celebrate success or reschedule further training.

Some people are easy to train, others are tougher than pulling teeth, if you put the effort in up front and present the training program well, everyone is much more likely to walk out (1) having learnt something new and (2) with their sanity still intact. For further discussion on these ideas, check out the link above to the Manager Tools Podcast.

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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.