How Do I Learn InfraWorks

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

I still remember the first time I read this quote, even though I was a preteen and had no idea what life had in store for me. But I did know that learning as many things as possible and feeding my brain with as much as I could find would help me find my passion and a clear path in life.

The first time I saw Project Galileo in 2011, I knew that I needed to learn this tool. In my first interaction with this platform I understood that this was the future. At the very beginning it was difficult; as with any new tool, there were not many resources available to learn, practice, and test this new program. It then became Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and finally Autodesk InfraWorks as we know it today. As time has passed and InfraWorks has continued its evolution, training materials have followed along, today offering innumerable training aids that are available to anyone who wants to utilize this immersive and dynamic software.

Training is a very complicated topic for firms in our industry: companies that do not budget for any training but still want to use software efficiently; others that budget barely enough but still demand high performance and quick deliveries from their users; and still others that budget efficiently but do not properly invest in the correct training methodologies and still require the most optimal results from designers. Where do we find a balance within all these scenarios, knowing that we all follow different learning paths and acquire new information in different ways?

The key that I have found to this conundrum is YOU! Yes, YOU, the actual program user, and how you take advantage of strengths and even weaknesses as a learner to efficiently investigate the tools at your disposal. It may not be fair, but in an ever-changing world full of updates, hot fixes, upgrades, new installs, and more, in order to stay relevant and competitive in the marketplace and regardless of the tools provided by our employers, it is us—the actual program users—who are going to make this work. At the end of the day, remember that the wealth of knowledge and experience gained stays with you wherever you go.

One of the first things to do is establish where you are in the learning curve in InfraWorks. To this end, ask yourself: Do I know the basics of 3D modeling? Do I know how to manage metadata? Do I know basic coding principles and, more specifically, JavaScript? Do I know multiple software integration tools? I realize that these questions may sound as if you need to be knowledgeable on many complicated subjects; from my experience, I have found that people who are interested in InfraWorks are typically more than competent and experienced in these topics and more. Nevertheless, if you must start from scratch, there are plenty of resources for you and some are even free. Let’s talk about them.

If you are a beginner with InfraWorks, I recommend you visit the Autodesk Civil Engineering Community Center, a website developed by Autodesk to “Learn, experience and inspire with the civil infrastructure community.”

Over the last year and a half, this website has been extremely helpful to me for keeping track of the latest news, learning materials, ideas, forums, etc. that are emerging almost daily. Within this website, you will find a learning option that will provide you a diverse list of tools for learning InfraWorks.

This site not only provides access to Autodesk training materials and actual program users, but also gives tips, tricks, and trending topics from other users to make workflows easier and more efficient.

Other site features to explore are the webcasts that have been presented for over two years now. They provide an in-depth approach to specific design uses of InfraWorks such as rail, bridge, and roadway design; drainage analysis; point cloud management, etc.

Another source of training material is the Autodesk Knowledge Network (AKN), where you can find tutorials, documentation, and downloads for different Autodesk programs, as well as technical support and answers to common (and sometimes uncommon) issues we find when working with InfraWorks.

For the most experienced users, there are also free resources available. I have found that the most useful ones are coming from users all over the world in blogs, YouTube channels, and discussion forums in the AKN. For example, did you know you can ask any question about a specific project issue? You will then get a response from someone who has cleared your hurdle in the past, providing solutions or at least pointing you in the right direction to solve the problem.

Other free resources that are good to keep in your toolbox include the following.  

Autodesk 360 Learning Experience: Tutorials in a step-by-step basics foundation to take you from getting started to efficiently creating your first fully integrated model across the communication of several platforms:

Autodesk InfraWorks YouTube Channel: Access to tips and tricks, what’s new in the latest releases of InfraWorks, specific workflows to modeling/design tasks, and more:

Civil Immersion and AEC Connection blogs: An excellent tool for day-to-day users, these blogs have been created by Jeff Bartels and Jerry Bartels with the helpful collaboration of Alan Gilbert. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in learning and/or improving their InfraWorks skills to visit regularly these links. Your time spent will be rewarding.            

Last but not least, there are the training tools that we pay for—either ourselves or our employers. Some of the most helpful that I have used are, CTC classroom center, Ascent training materials, and CAD-1 + Applied Software. Many of these tools are very well structured to follow a specific path of learning that can accommodate almost any learning style in consideration of your time availability, willingness to practice, and application of the concepts learned.  

The most important thing to recognize and understand is that, like many other computer programs, the software is ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS USER! Hence, the need for our designers to be as proactive and committed as possible. With so many InfraWorks resources at our disposal, coupled with our time management skills and learning aptitudes, only our imagination sets the limit as to how far we use its capabilities to connect, interpret, propose, and resolve our design problems in a fully integrated 3D environment. Regardless of the challenges, presenting the end result in a VR and AR setting allows clients to clearly understand the intended solutions.   

Recognize your learning style and know your experience level before jumping into the first lecture, video presentation, or book/document chapter. From there, enjoy this fun, enriching, and rewarding journey to design in real-time with real-life data in InfraWorks. 

Let’s keep moving forward! 

Oscar Castaneda is a Professional Engineer at Infrastructure Engineers Inc. with 13 years of design experience working in projects for multiple jurisdictions across the United States. He is proficient in numerous software applications such as Civil 3D, Infraworks, Revit, ReCap Pro, ReCAP Photo, AutoCAD, Microstation/GeopaK, Pix4D, Navisworks, and Revu Blue Beam, among many others. As an avid flying enthusiast, Oscar is a certified airman for small UAVs under FAA Part 107 and is currently developing and implementing precise workflows for the use of these technologies within transportation design projects. He is a regular instructor at national, state, and local training events where he shares his experiences with fellow colleagues

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