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The CAD Conundrum

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

Start Date

August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Gene McGinnis Jr. P.E. Christian Brothers University

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Professor McGinnis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. He has thirty-eight years of experience teaching engineering courses. He has taught thirty-three years at Christian Brothers University. He teaches courses in Transportation Engineering and Construction Engineering. Required courses include: Civil Engineering Graphics, Geomatics and Lab, Construction Materials and Lab, Highway Engineering and Engineering Economy. Elective courses include: Traffic Engineering, Heavy Construction Equipment and Methods, Construction Cost Estimating and Cost Control, Construction Management and Planning and Scheduling. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Tennessee. His professional experience includes bridge inspection and evaluation, roadway and interstate design, traffic planning and the design of earth-fill dams. He serves on the Board of Directors of the America Society of Civil Engineers West Tennessee Branch. He serves as the Treasurer for the Memphis Area Joint Engineers Council. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers. He serves as the faculty advisor for Tennessee Delta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society and as the faculty advisor for the student engineering fraternity Theta Tau. Professor McGinnis served fifteen years as the Department Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Memphis teaching a class in Construction Engineering.

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Andrew Assadollahi, P.E. Christian Brothers University

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Dr. Assadollahi is a native Memphian who earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a B.S. in Mathematics, both from Christian Brothers University in 2009. He earned a M.S. in Civil Engineering from The University of Memphis in 2010 with a concentration in structural seismic engineering. Dr. Assadollahi completed his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from The University of Memphis with a concentration in geo-structures in 2013. Dr. Assadollahi is the Department Chair and an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Christian Brothers University.

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Work in Progress Paper: The CAD Conundrum Works in Progress (Resubmit from 2020

This Work in Progress Paper discusses the transition from Bentley software to Autodesk software in first-year civil engineering course. Since the mid 1990’s, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Christian Brothers University has taught Bentley’s MicroStation to first-year civil engineering students in the CE 111 (Civil Engineering Graphics) course. The selection of the Bentley software over Autodesk’s AutoCAD was primarily due to the cost of the software as the Bentley software was much more economical than the Autodesk software. MicroStation served our students well since many of them graduated and worked for organizations that utilize the software. It was generally known that most interns or graduates were able to learn Autodesk software packages quickly on the job after having learned how to use MicroStation. This remained true until recently when Autodesk changed their policy allowing academic institutions to use their vast variety of software free of charge. In addition, a new structural engineering faculty member who was more familiar with what was being used in industry suggested that we consult our advisory board to see if we should add the Autodesk products to our curriculum. The answer was a definite yes. The Instructor teaching the CE 111 course began introducing AutoCAD Civil 3D in the CE 111 course during the Fall 2019 semester. The Instructor developed a series of tutorials that mirrored the introductory MicroStation tutorials that were assigned during the beginning of the semester. The Instructor concluded that most of the students were able to complete the AutoCAD Civil 3D tutorials without much difficulty after having used MicroStation for the majority of the semester. The Instructor intends to expand the coverage of AutoCAD Civil 3D in the CE 111 course during the Fall 2020 semester and hopes to include AutoCAD Civil 3D in other courses such as Geomatics and Highway Engineering. The civil engineering faculty members intend to use other Autodesk applications in their classes in structural engineering and hydraulics. This paper will address the successes and challenges that the Instructor has in incorporating the Autodesk software in the introductory computer aided design (CAD) course as well as other courses as the experiment progresses. The students’ perspective on the new and old software will be tallied and presented as the course is taught through the next few years. The Instructor of CE 111 does not plan to abandon the MicroStation software from the curriculum but there could be a shift in the proportion of the semester that is spent on teaching MicroStation as compared to AutoCAD Civil 3D. The Instructor believes that it is much easier to learn MicroStation first and then AutoCAD Civil 3D rather than the other way around. Student and graduate input over the years has confirmed this. The benefit of AutoCAD Civil 3D is the three-dimensional environmental which civil engineers are embracing. In summary, this paper will be chronicle the experiences of the civil engineering faculty at Christian Brothers University as they strive to provide the best educational outcome for their graduates.

McGinnis, G., & Assadollahi, P.E., A. (2021, August), The CAD Conundrum Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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