Interview with Rachael Taggart – Part 3

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Deelip: Well, you seem to be pretty down on the industry. What do you say to that?

Rachael: It might sound that way, but the industry is still filled with brilliant and innovative people and they never stop astonishing me every day. I am honored to be around them during events like COFES. But, the industry has matured, and is still mostly relying on technology innovations made 20 years ago.

The industry needs innovation. It needs open minds to allow their innovations to become mainstream. But it also needs to espouse engineers and designers. And maybe the CAD Society can be a part of that. Here’s how:

1) Develop engineers: Autodesk, and, at lower levels, PTC and SolidWorks, have been notable in their support for the FIRST Robotics events.  These projects allow US school kids to really delve into robotic projects as part of their middle and high school education and this program is actively developing engineers. A further part of that is educating and encouraging kids in the western hemisphere that engineering doesn’t always have to demand a 4-6 year college education. Some of you will cringe at that, and I am by no means denigrating the title of Professional Engineer. But many companies in the UK F1 Triangle are encouraging kids to start working with them first, as they leave school, so they can go on later to study engineering. In my view, many US kids are rejecting engineering degrees because, as they hear about the courses, the viscerally know that their mathematics and physics education to that point is simply not good enough! That comes down to a whole new discussion about quality of schools and if you want to discuss that with me, meet me at COFES 2010. I have a lot to say on the subject!

2) Encourage Innovation: Face it, old guys, the designers and engineers coming into the workforce live on text messages, FaceBook and…soon…like it or not…iPad/tablet platforms. All it takes is for a new Gary Page and Sergey Brin to turn up in the CAD industry and all the revenue based on 20 year old technology will be blown out of the water.

3) Encompass Diversity: The next few generations of engineers in the western hemisphere will be from (or located in): China, India and the Middle East. (I am about to get called a communist again…eh well!) The investment in those engineers is already happening, and you will use the talent. Oh and don’t forget female engineers. Trends are showing that there is a higher proportion of females training in engineering in the western hemisphere than male, and they will follow paths already blazed by Ping Fu and Carol Bartz. And all I can say is, good for them.

So how can The CAD Society help? Beats me! On the one hand, CAD Society can deliver passive promotion and editorial encouraging the things I list above. That’s alright if it is the mission. Maybe CAD Society should simply archive the historical documents (there’s a Galaxy Quest reference for the geeks). Maybe there is something more active that the CAD Society should be doing.  But first we need volunteers, feedback, views, ideas. Input is critical. And you know where to find me.