Today I received my first graded AutoCAD assignment. This project was, as the instructor called it, a “dumb little thing about drawing rectangles and circles.” It took me about three hours to do this work. I know that I’ll become more efficient with the tools and techniques of AutoCAD as I continue to practice. Everyone who I’ve spoken to about the program has told me that it is a difficult one to master and that even a course such as the one I’m taking will only be just an introduction. I find this sort of talk encouraging and it inspires me to work through the difficulties that I’m having. AutoCAD is an important piece of software for landscape architects and becoming fluent with it will surely make me a better designer.
The class meets once a week which means that for three hours the instructor moves quickly through the instructions and I don’t know if I should follow his actions projected on the overhead screen or try to emulate his movements on my own monitor. We are given several ways to do certain things and only one way to do others. There are acronyms and weird commands for every action. There is paper space and there is model space and there are view ports. I try to follow along as closely as I can during class. So, the question is, why did I struggle so hard with this?
As a student, I have to admit that this sort of “red lining” is not very encouraging. To be totally honest, which is what I’m trying to do with Desire Lines, I struggled so hard to even make the drawing that I submitted. I’m not sure why. I sat alone staring forever at my monitor as the clock ticked me towards the deadline. I drew a circle and it vanished. I moved a line and it bounced right back to where it was to begin with.
The flip side to my anxieties about failing this class is that I am glad for the challenge. I came to graduate school to learn how to be a landscape architect. This inevitably involves struggle, disappointment, and –unfortunately– failure. While I wish that the class could slow down and allow me to catch up, the obvious response has to be the other way around. I have to figure out how to make this work. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. Better start double-checking my work.