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My Co-op Experience as a CADD Technologist

March 2021 – by Nicolas Gomes

This month’s PICCO perspective is written by co-op student, Nicolas Gomes. Nicolas joins us in his 3rd year of his Architectural Engineering program at the University of Waterloo—a program that teaches students to design, renovate, and retrofit flexible buildings that adapt to different needs.

Read on as Nicolas shares his experience working with PICCO.

Caption: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario—One of Canada's largest engineering schools and ranked among the top 50 engineering schools worldwide.

As an engineering student studying Architectural Engineering at the University of Waterloo, gaining job experience is critical for increasing employability with future engineering firms. I initially began to pursue the architecture industry at a young age, although my interests slowly began to transition towards the engineering world as I realized architecture school becomes too conceptual and introduces projects far from reality. I decided to pursue the program of Architectural Engineering because it would allow me to pursue design while still learning about mathematics, mechanics, and construction drawings throughout each term. I am a student who subsequently developed a keen eye for detail within fabrication and have accomplished the craft of accurate technical drawings.

Previous Work terms

During my previous co-op work terms, I worked for several architectural firms in the GTA; but never had the chance to gain relevant engineering experience. For that reason, I wanted to join a company that gave me the opportunity to grow as an engineering student with an interest in connection detail drawings alongside professional engineers. That is why I joined PICCO as a CADD Technologist within their Stone Department.

PICCO Group of Companies is a leading engineering firm that specializes in stone cladding anchorage systems, alongside Structural and Residential Engineering services. My primary responsibilities included creating 3D animations to simulate the process of assembly of connection anchors using 3Ds Max, and developed construction, shop, and ticket drawings for stone fabricators using AutoCAD. My four months at PICCO allowed me to grow personally and helped me gain new skills in animation software and the stone industry as a whole.

New Programs Learned In my role, I conducted research on potential animation software that could be leveraged by PICCO. 3Ds Max, a popular animation software, was one of the recommendations that I made to my team to create the animations in question. It is a more sophisticated 3D modeling and animation software compared to Maya or Blender. Prior to this role, I did not have experience with 3Ds Max, thus, I educated myself on the basics of the software through YouTube tutorials and trial and error to fully understand the operating system.

I applied my knowledge of Rhinoceros, another 3D modeling software, to help me coordinate the assembly of the connection at the right moments.

Caption: Screenshot of an anchor designed in 3Ds Max.

Another highlight was the training offered to me by the PICCO team. They thoroughly trained me on the proper way to create shop and ticket drawings for clients. The team also helped improve my efficiency within AutoCAD by introducing me to specific commands tailored for organization and consistency, but also for general drafting techniques throughout my work term.

Caption: Shop ticket for Richmond Virginia Temple.

Working Remotely

Since the start of the pandemic, I have experienced an online school term prior to joining PICCO, therefore I was used to direct communication through online platforms such as Microsoft Teams to communicate and coordinate with teammates for projects. Throughout my work term, it was important to participate in discussions, ask questions, and reflect on feedback to understand my present performance and how I can find ways to improve my performance for the future. In the end, adapting to the remote work environment lifestyle was familiar; however, I still needed to organize my calendar in order to adapt to both school and co-op simultaneously.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned that I will take with me from this experience:

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: Mistakes allow you to show your employer that you tried, failed, and then picked yourself back up to try again. Owning up to the mistakes I have made during my co-op helped me learn and build confidence as a student working within firms.

Create Conversation: As a co-op student, it is important to frequently ask for performance feedback and often exercise your critical thinking to help improve yourself. I frequently interacted with my supervisor and colleagues to increase my efficiency as a technologist.

Be open-minded: It is important to challenge your existing skills and consider new ideas to give you fresh insight into engineering. At PICCO, introducing new software to the company to create three-dimensional animations can both help clients and contractors visualize how the connection would come together in the appropriate manner.

"PICCO Group of Companies has provided me with educational knowledge working alongside an amazing, and talented team. But most importantly, I gained a new sense of professionalism and a clearer view of what it means to be in the stone industry as a CADD Technologist. I would like to thank the PICCO team for your counsel and mentoring to make this co-op term a wonderful experience."

Blog written by: Nicolas Gomes

CADD Technologist Co-op Student at PICCO

Nicolas is a 3rd-year co-op student in the Architectural Engineering Program at the University of Waterloo. He worked as a CADD Technologist for his co-op work term from January to April 2021.


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