When it comes to training, one thing I have learned is that everyone absorbs knowledge and learns new tasks in different ways and by different methods. For the last 22 years I have worked in the civil engineering field performing different tasks from surveying to site civil design. Throughout those years, I used several different design software programs—from AutoCAD® R12 to Land Desktop, and now AutoCAD® Civil 3D® and InfraWorks®.
In the past, to perform the task given to me I had to take advantage of any training available for each design software. Finding the training method that best fit my needs was something I learned over time. Twenty years ago, options for training might be limited to hands-on practice and a few books.
Fast forward to the present day, where we might be overwhelmed with the amount of training resources available—eLearning, blogs, handouts, CAD boot camps, YouTube, customized training, in-person training, and much more.
Though all these resources are great in their own way, the ability to learn design software such as AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks comes down to individual users and the learning methods that are right for each person.
Over the last decade, as a CAD/BIM Manager, I have provided hands-on and online training to numerous civil technicians, architects, surveyors, EITS, and engineers. The #1 item I have stressed to everyone is that the software is only as good as the user. Users who don’t understand the software won’t get the ending results they want. In turn, they may also get discouraged and believe the software does not perform efficiently. In order to remedy this situation, I would determine which learning method works best for each user.
What I have learned from my experiences is there are four different types of learning methods: video presentation, repetition, reading material, and live one-on-one training. In this article, I will focus on video and online training material.
As the civil engineering industry moves more and more to BIM workflows, understanding and taking advantage of collaborative BIM workflows between software such as AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks is important. One way users can learn how to use the collaboration features in AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks is through online video presentation. Users today can easily go online and find several training companies such as LinkedIn Learning (formally known as Lynda.com), Global eTraining, CADLearning, and many more.
Figure 1: CADLearning and Linkedin Learning are two online learning resources with free trial periods
Though there are many available training resources, most are not free, but fear not because Autodesk provides an online training video library resource, accessible from the InfraWorks Help menu. If you select the Getting Started option from the Help pull-down menu, you will be taken to the Welcome to Autodesk InfraWorks Learning webpage. Here you can find several training video tutorials on the latest new features, and topics ranging from component roads to collaboration tools.
Figure 2: Autodesk's InfraWorks online training resource
From the InfraWorks Help menu pull-down you can also select Online Training Offers options to view LinkedIn Learning and CADLearning free 30-day training (Figure 1).
In the AutoCAD Civil 3D 2020 Help menu pull-down, select Videos and you will be taken to the Help Home webpage, which provides several short tutorial videos that will provide a better understanding of the major design tools within AutoCAD Civil 3D.
Figure 3: An example of training offerings available from the Help menu
In both InfraWorks and AutoCAD Civil 3D, from the Help menu pull-down you have an option to select Tutorials, which is great for all new users to view and read.
To view more advanced and in-depth training videos for InfraWorks and AutoCAD Civil 3D, user can also access the Autodesk Knowledge Network options from the Help pull-down menu. The Autodesk Knowledge Network website provides a large number of videos on newly released software features, problem solving/technical support, and in-depth looks into advanced design tools. In addition, you can also access troubleshooting posts provided by Autodesk and access to software update downloads.
Another great source for free video tutorials or in-depth looks into AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWork is the Autodesk Infrastructure YouTube channel. This provides access to various design topics and pre-recorded webcasts hosted by Autodesk. This resource is a great way to get a better understanding of the collaborative workflows between AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks, other BIM workflows, BIM 360 DOCS, Dynamo for Civil 3D, Vehicle Tracking, and ReCAP. Because YouTube has also become a model app, it provides a quick and easy way to access Autodesk videos remotely or on the go. Other great YouTube channels to follow are Jeff Bartels, Autodesk ReCAP, and Autodesk InfraWorks.
Figure 4: Autodesk Infrastructure on YouTube
Video training has become another great way for users to learn more about civil engineering design software such as InfraWorks and AutoCAD Civil 3D.
Training books have been around for many years and were one of the most popular ways to learn and train for beginners and intermediate software users. For years I purchased books such as Harnessing Autodesk Civil 3D and Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D. And though hard copy training books are slowly fading away, you can still find some great training books from companies such as CADapult Software Solutions and Ascent.
Having direct access to hard copy training books and handouts was always convenient, but now as technology and training has evolved, we have even more access to training materials for various design software online and through mobile devices.
I consider Autodesk University (www.autodesk.com/Autodesk-university/) and AUGI (www.augi.com) websites the two best online locations to browse through customized training materials for numerous design software programs.
Autodesk University online is a great source for beginner and
Figure 5: Autodesk University online
advanced users seeking training material to better understand all the latest new features and power design tools within AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks. In addition, Autodesk University contains a vast library of videos and handouts that users can access for free. Each class can vary from a specific task or topic to BIM collaboration workflows between design software such as AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks.
AUGI has become another great source for finding training material and helpful articles on various Autodesk design software. Just like AUGIWorld magazine you are currently reading, users can read about helpful tips & tricks and design methods when working with roads and highways with Civil 3D and InfraWorks.
The Autodesk Civil Engineering Community Center website is a great online source for training, getting answers and helpful tips & tricks on AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks. This webpage provides access to the AutoCAD Civil & InfraWorks forums where you can post questions on a specific task or design tools.
The AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks Ideastation is the best place to go to make suggestions to the Autodesk development team on how they can make the software more efficient and user friendly. The Tips & Tricks webpage section is a great source for finding advanced tips and tricks on various InfraWorks tasks. User can also watch pre-ecorded webcasts on various design topics or features. In addition, you can read about the latest industry trends and insights.
Finally, the Infrastructure Reimagined website provides in-depth insight articles about different design industries including transportation, structural, civil & surveying, construction, and plant. Within each industry section you can read articles on how different companies used design software such as AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks to win projects and resolve land development design issues. In addition, you can also watch pre-recorded videos on how some companies used both AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks for their projects.
Figure 6: Case studies from various industries are available within the Autodesk Infrastructure Reimagined website
CAD managers seeking more advanced knowledge or insight will want to check out the Autodesk CAD Manager Center (www.autodesk.com/cad-manager). Here you can read articles about CAD management success stories and more.
Figure 7: CAD management resources available from Autodesk
Training is crucial for today’s workforce. Through Autodesk websites, Autodesk University, and other blogs and websites, users can easily access free online training material and videos in order to become more proficient and productive in AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks.
Tony Carcamo is president of Civil CAD Learning Solutions where he provides software training and technical support for several Autodesk software platforms. Tony has 22 years of experience in the civil engineering field, performing tasks such as surveying, platting to site, road and utility design. In addition, he has spent 12 years managing and implementing Autodesk software as a CAD/BIM Manager. Tony is a blogger, sits on several Autodesk committees and council groups, is president of the DFW BIM Infrastructure User Group, a certified professional in AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks, and an Autodesk Expert Elite member. He is also Chief Operating Officer at Modern Engineering Solutions.