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What does it take to learn CAD now days?

Are you smart enough to master CAD?  What does it take?  Can it be done on your own?  Do you need training?  Is it best to get it from books?  Is a classroom setting the best?

I have been learning CAD for almost 20 years and training others in CAD for almost as long.  I have seen a lot of software come and go.  I have investing in learning tools that have disappeared over the years.  I bet you have done the same thing.  Learned a new tool only to see it no longer developed or embraced by the CAD community and it just fades away.

I don't know about you, but time is precious to me and I can not afford to waste my time when it comes to learning new tools.  I want to focus my efforts to get the maximum return on my investment of time.

So what is a person to do?  What is the best method for getting up to speed?  Who can you depend on for information?  Who's job is it to teach you and how hard do you have to work at mastering the newest, best and brightest software tools?

We will take a look at this subject over the next few months to see if we can come up with some answers and processes to assist you in getting trained and in training others.

I don't want to waste your time - so here is my conclusion.  I think it is your job to learn CAD.  Others will help you and assist, but it is ultimately up to you to dig into the subject and invest in yourself.  So keep reading if you want to know more...

First a scientific look at the subject of intelligence.  They have categorized intelligence into two broad categories.  Fluid and Crystallized.

Fluid Intelligence is:  “a natural ability which is not dependant on acquired knowledge”

Crystallized Intelligence is: “ability dependent on acquired knowledge” 

Many studies have shown that fluid intelligence is more likely to decline with age than crystallized intelligence. In fact, crystallized intelligence may continue to improve with age. Many people continue to gain expertise and skills in particular areas throughout life.

Scientists like to compare these two kinds of intelligences to a computer. Think of Fluid Intelligence as the computer hardware (the processor, all the wires, and the other hardware components) which is like the person's brain and central nervous system. Now think of Crystallized Intelligence as the computer software which is the person's strategies. Finally think of the data stored inside the computer as an individual's lifetime of accumulated knowledge.

So we have Fluid Intelligence:

- Ability to adjust one’s thinking to unfamiliar situations.
- Measured through performance on tests that involve solving new problems. 

And we have Crystallized Intelligence:

- Results from education, experience and acculturation.
- Measured with tests of verbal comprehension, vocabulary and numerical skill.

I think that learning CAD requires both.  Some folks have a little better edge on Fluid Intelligence.  They just figuring things out.  They seem to know what to click and how it all works together.  Others are Crystallizers.  They seem to soak up all of the data that is pumped in.  They are a walking book of knowledge.

Learning CAD needs both.  You need to be unafraid to experiment and you need to retain the results that work.  Don't be afraid of just trying things out.  Keep track of the processes that work.  Learning is tough, but if you stay focused - you will get it.

More next month...