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Education & Training: Definitions and Differences

Let’s first talk about the difference between education and training.

Education is when you are exposed to and become aware of a given topic.

Training is how you become great at that topic. Whether it is how to use Autodesk® Revit® or engineer a building, it is through the repetition of your skillset over time, which is training, that makes you great.

Learning about Revit and how to do something—initial education—doesn’t always mean that you can do it. Remember the first time someone taught you how to import a model or a CAD background, then you tried to do that exact same thing months later and you were unable to? Why does this happen? It is because there wasn’t enough repetition between the introduction and when you had to do it again by yourself.

Training and education are the two greatest investments a company can make in employees. Think of the best CEOs—they are reading an average of 60 books per year. Some of these books are first-time reads (education) and some are re-reads (training themselves on concepts they’ve already learned). By contrast, the average person in America is reading barely one book per year. The best employees in your company are those who are learning and training the most. The top firms in the world are learning and training more than their competitors, making them the top firms in the world.

Education and training should not be done simply for the sake of appearances. When programs are planned and/or conducted poorly, employees can leave with a net negative experience. They may have received incorrect or outdated information, been taught poor habits or had them reinforced, or they may have completely disengaged from a process to capture its attendees. All of these factors, which is by no means a comprehensive list, result in lost resources for the companies. Some of them, especially poor train-the-trainer programs, can result in geometrically cascading failure for a company.

Evolution and adoption of new models and standards can create challenges for businesses with regard to education and training. For example, not all managers are being educated and trained on Building Information Modeling (BIM), yet they want to enforce BIM standards within their company. Here is the big question: How can someone enforce standards when they have no idea what any of those standards mean? If they don’t know how to open and navigate Revit, why would anyone in the firm listen to them? This is a rampant practice across many firms; managers are not learning how to correctly use appropriate tools to create final deliverables, yet they expect their staff to be training on those same tools.

Key metrics for training:

  • Accountability
  • Repetition
  • Effective

Firms want all the following items:

  • Make more money
  • Expand
  • Grow
  • Improve customer service
  • Land more accounts

Generally speaking, going to a course for the first time is usually initial exposure to an idea. Going through the same course (or similar courses) repetitively is training, reinforcement of learned concepts through repeated exposure and practice. Therefore, being trained should mean that someone is able to do a task effectively and repeatedly with nearly perfect results. What type of follow-up has been implemented on the training to ensure that it was effective? Does management see that an employee did the training? Does management know that they are now capable of doing tasks that have been outlined for them in their duty?

Unfortunately, the typical scenario is an employee attending a one-time lesson, being exposed to an idea that they are then expected to put into practice. With no follow-up on material or confirmation of knowledge and skills gained, the employee is expected to hit the ground running.

Now let’s think about this for companies in the AEC industry. How much training is done on how to have difficult conversations with customers? How much training is done on how to write contracts? How much training is done on what can or can’t be said in an email for insurance purposes? How much training is done on how to review change orders? How much training is done on how to give presentations effectively and the words to use during those presentations to earn the business and that next project?

Answer this for your own firm and experience.

In our industry, AEC, there are always updates and changes to what we are doing. Whether that is code updates, different types of products being brought to the market, or an update/new version of tools such as Revit. This constant evolution, which is typically good, means we need to be educated more often and made aware of what changes are still to come. With this education and awareness, training can be established, lessons taught, and techniques implemented across the firm. Without awareness, it’s hard to see what is going on in the industry, to track trends across the marketplace.

 

Trends can be the types of technology brought into buildings and workspaces. Trends can be the types and methods of construction and the speed at which owners want buildings put up. Revit and BIM were trends in 2013 and now they are the norm across the AEC industry. Being on the front side of these—and other—trends helped a lot of firms land more business because they showed they could adapt. In fact, it is probable those companies were able to influence these trends early on, helping shape the trends into what we see and use today.

There are still firms primarily using AutoCAD®. Those firms’ deliverables are easily recognized by unfortunate markers: drawings end at two dimensions; no additional database of information; no way to plug in maintenance information; difficult to connect campuses together into a cohesive model to be used for further analysis; difficulty coordinating with contractors.

AutoCAD to Revit is an evolution in how buildings are designed, built, and maintained. This took education and awareness of this new product. Then it took training for all staff to be able to use Revit on a daily basis to design buildings. Yes, there was a learning curve. Yes, there was a production short-fall for a period of time. For the firms that made the transition from AutoCAD to Revit, was that short drop in production worth it, so in seven years your business is still relevant and salient? Only you can answer that question for yourself and your firm.  

Dillon Mitchell is a licensed electrical engineer and has been using Revit for years. He is passionate about optimization and workflow improvement. Dillon has managed electrical departments designing nearly 2 million square feet of educational and commercial buildings. Having designed electrical systems for 300,000 square foot buildings, he understands that process matters. Every bit of improvement, short-cut, and timesaver makes a big difference when working on projects at scale. Dillon founded Kowabunga Studios to create tools for engineers to improve their efficiency on Revit projects large and small. When not optimizing Revit or electrical engineering, Dillon enjoys running long distance races (marathons and ultramarathons) as well Ironman Triathlons. Find him out on a trail or road testing the limits of personal endurance.

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