Tag Archives: work

Academic Papers

Debtors' Prison by BC Collective - Street art in Kochi, India - 1I am placed in a unique position as a Professor, I get to read a lot of papers, not just student papers but all sorts of academic papers written by some very intelligent people. This comes from in part researching my own papers, and in part following up lines of research for construction techniques, materials, design, physics, or just plain old interest.

University gives me access to such a lot of information, from the unusual well stocked library, to the online E library were I can search for almost anything. But unless your part of the academia, you , if your out side of academia, will probably never see them, which, I find strange, some one is hindering circulation, just so that they can control and make money and that some one is never the author or author’s. This is just absurd, one of the many reasons to write papers is to show case knowledge, make a name, but most of all share, let other people be part of your writing.

For Students, I can not enforce the ethos of writing, This week in my CPD Class i will discus the merits of creating their own web site and populating it with papers, thoughts and most of all their work, drawings, sketches, photos, thoughts on Architectural Technology and construction.

I will be going the free route, so its WordPress.com, or blogger, for written material, and perhaps Picasa or Flickr for photosI have no bias to any of them, I use them all.


Getting Paid as a Freelancer

CIAT Table name plateI am running a lunch time once a week session for my second and third  year student, its a simple gathering not part of the student curriculum, but is in my book one of the important lectures. Its all about getting work, from looking for it, to preparing for it, to keeping it.

One lesson I give is the variety of ways there are to allow you to work for some one, i.e. Staff, freelance, contract, the list is not endless but it is not a one liner.

For many in our profession, its as a freelancer, being hires by a practice to add support, some time for a limited period, some times for the entire length of a project.

Sometimes its via an agency, some times direct, via the agency it can be via there company, or as in my case via your own company.

As an opener I want you to read this very excellent article on Lifehacker, “How to Ensure You Get Paid as a Freelancer” it will give an overview to getting paid, and open up so many questions, which if you are one of my students I will negotiate and discuss in the lunch time weekly meets.

Otherwise read here and I will post articles as I give the lectures.

Todays photo is really a reminder of the very excellent CIAT AGM weekend in Nottingham, well done CIAT office and Well done the locals for all the hard work,

The Architectural Review 1907

BooksIt’s been a long old week, leading up to a weekend away in Bristol to have dinner with about 55 friends on Saturday night, so no real blog this week, just had to get my head down and prepare lectures and get things in order, but we are back, and happy to report, that late Saturday we managed to find the old Town in Bristol and the two very excellent markets, one of which had the most excellent book store, just crammed full of books of all sorts, for me the Architecture and construction section had some fine examples, off which I purchased three:

  1. The Architectural Review for January 12907 N0 122
  2. Sewers & Sewage, Whyatt, 1941
  3. Building construction, Mitchell 1946

OK they are old, but the information contained is mostly current, well it is for me, as I work predomantly on older buildings, altering them, or adding to them, so this type of construction, is exactly what I need to know. All for £20 a real buy.

Architectural Technologist – Raspberry PI first play

I am pleased to report that my Raspberry PI came this week! together with all the bits it needs! some I already have! like mouse Ethernet cable and keyboard! the rest like power and a link to a tv, I ordered.


Powering it up, is simple, just be patient, after a short wait, the screen start rolling with file listings and you end up with a promt. Loading or starting the GUI is the next step to link onto the net, for me I went straight to google to test the speed, and for me that was fine. I then loaded the google doc page and after a short wait! it loaded just fine. The next step is to consider programing, so a little research is called for. But for a first stab, it worked just as I had read.

If any one says lecturing is easy, walk away, they have no idea, it's hard, very hard, preparation, teaching, marking, getting to lectures on time, opening doors, and just dealing with students is time consuming. So it's no wonder I have not blogged this week, I just have not had time. So this coming week I will make up a little, with some extra blogs and I have even got a couple of guest blogs with article I thought worthy.

My CPD is taking a little side step, in the coming months, with a little more on the more interesting side of research, I want to write a paper on the use of the raspberry unit in construction, so need to build up notes and trial software.

Today's photo is of google docs running in a beta chrome Linux gogle browser, not bad, a little slow, but all working, not the use I want to put the unit to, but a good test.

Architectural Technologist – CIAT AGM

After a long week, hence no blog for a couple of days, I head for the smoke to partake in the CIAT AGM. It' An early start, but one I willingly take to get to London on time.

For students and members of all grades, this is an important meet, it's time to full fill the legal requirements of CIAT as an association, but also it's time to direct and steer the association, this time there is no dinner dance! quite rightly the majority expence has been curbed! something I hope the exec board will review as work increases and times get better.

Another reason for attending is the obvious net working, time to sit and have a beer with old friends, and talk, see what they are doing and what work is about.

Back to the no blog bit, for any one who has lectured at a college or university, you will know the preparation that needs to be done, even when you have lesson plan and class notes already prepaired. For me taking over from a lecturer, it's been a little heavy, picking up time tables, getting used to the students and finding my way round a new computer System. But most, getting lecture notes sorted, and prepaired has taken time, time I so often use to write my blog, so please forgive a few more weeks of intermittent uploads and communication. It will not last, as soon as I settle down, we will return to normal of an almost daily blog.

That's it, I'm on the chiltern line, and wondering if their is a bacon butty and cup of joe. Is available, I think not unless their is a trolly on board somewhere.

Work, that is my practice, has been pushed to either side of my new lecture duties, pushing my time to see clients and just draw to a minimum, plus my beloved Vectorworks! needed an upgrade! to cope with the new Mavericks OS of my MacBook Pro, as always with such a big change things are not always as smooth as apple might want you to believe! certain things are slower! and version 2011, is just not working at all, at only three years old it's useless, something I think is not on, certainly it's made me upgrade, I can't afford to piss about arguing, I need to get on, so I have been upgrading my current projects, again something I just did not want to do, I have vented my anger on the constant upgrades to drawing files before and will continue to do so until some one in Nemetschek sees sence.

One of my new jobs is replacing an old run down timberframe/brick single story cottage with a new long barn style dwelling, located in the middle of wales and high on a hill side it's going to be an interesting project. We have purchased the OS map and although it's a little sparce, there is enough to locate it and certain streams plus as the map was digital, it's all geo located. An initial survey is enough to draw and locate the existing structure, but the levels need checking so another visit is required. I hope to talk about this project a little more, so stay tuned.

The picture today is of some of my student learning or in this case practicing levelling, transferring a level from one side of Gloucester city center to the campus across the old swing bridge? again I emphasis that even through we might not level or check levels that much, relying on surveying companies to produce a level and measured survey, it's a needed skill to be able to understand and check the work. Plus there are times when it's just the simplest way, go to side and check for your self.


Architectural Technologist – Your Portfolio

In a conversation with some students last week, I was surprised to lean that most, if not all ,had no CV and no portfolio, in fact the very concept of getting a job was for them not the current problem, getting the assignment in on time or their at attendance level was much higher on the list. And I can in a small way sympathise with them, but I went to great length to try and persuade them to at least start to plan their portfolio.

This article on the life of an architect, perhaps outline some of the points they, or even you, should be looking at, I might add that I am a big promoter of both paper and electronic versions, for good reason, I like paper, I have tried to attend interviews with my iPad, only to embarrass the interviewer, because he or she did not know how to use the devise, so now I attend any prospective client interview with both.

The picture today is of my A3 paper portfolio, with my most recent and best drawing and project work first, I have found that most interviewers have a very limited attention span, so I like to get the best in first.

The portfolio is reasonably packed, not that I ever intend showing all of it, but indicate the depth of my work portfolio, if I get through the first few sheets, I count myself lucky.

One student asked what should I show, well for me it's plans then elevation, most clients find plans easier to read, specific details I find bore them, but that depends upon the client, if it's freelance work within a practice I change that.

In another blog, I will explore the idea of electronic portfolio's, but for now it's all paper.

CPD is sometimes about getting work, I must now spend about half the week just thinking and researching work, keeping in touch, or following up on enquiries, it need to be high on any adgenda.


Architectural Technologist – Presentation technique



Today's headline is a little strange, and not for a blog that concentrates on CPD, you might think, but nothing can be further from the truth. From the start of your interview and or presentation technique in getting that first job, or pitching for work, your presentation technique will make or brake.


In the beginning, I had no formal training, I was put in front of an out of the way Architects practice, and told to give a presentation on my companies insulation, it was horrendous, I was nervous, and made all the classic mistakes of mumbling, not making contact and reading from a paper.

But, it's that word again, but I learned with practice and by watching seasoned performers just how and why a presentation was successful. It does not always work, but mostly it does. Confidence in both your self and your subject matter comes first, then the equipment, and finally in preparation.

Confidence comes with practice, both with your self and your subject matter, in which you should be widely read, believe me, some one in your audience might know a title more than you, and just one might enjoy tripping you up, so first rule, it's nice to be able to answer a question, but if you don't know, admit it, and offer to check.

Next, I count preparation as both the slides and visual material I intend to use, and in my arrival at the venue to check both the room and the equipment, with a practice run if I am giving a presentation, or early enough to sit, chill, and check my bag and run through the things I want to say if it's an interview.

For presentations I always carry at least two copies of my slides, in both PowerPoint and of course Apples keynote, but I always have a PDF backup.

Next I carry all the possible connectors I might need to connect my mac to any projector, if in doubt I carry my own projector with me in the car, although I have only once had to fall back on it, most times, I, or the local tech man seem to have got it sorted. Top of my box of bits and bobs is my trusty electric lead.

The room I have to use is also a means to failure, I have arrived only to find the acoustics are just awful, or their are no visible plugs, anywhere near to the stage, I even found an old 3 pin round plug on one stage. No means of blackout, and light pouring onto the screen.

For many years I worked for the Dow Chemical Company, who were and I presume still are, very keen on presentations, so I learned very quickly from some great people how to present, I basically found someone I both liked and found interesting and copied him.

As far as venue is concerned, it happens so often, you will have no control over it. In one case, I was in a room so far from the main entrance I needed a map to find the room, so went back over the route and left large arrows on A4 paper pointing the way, with Dow,s logo on it and my name and telephone number.

Which brings me to the inevitable mobile phone, switch it of, ask your audience to switch of, but if one does ring, and there is inevitably one, ignore it, the poor audience member is already embarist enough.

If I have one thing to give any new presenter, student or otherwise, it's practice, don't go in cold, run through your slides a dozen times, know your subject, and be prepared for the calamity. I once had to give a slide presentation with 35mm slides on a very new projector, I did not realise that it needed the slides turned round, so was unpleasantly shocked when the first slide came up, thankfully and friend in the audience came up and did a manual turn of the slides whilst I talked, phew !!.

Next it's questions, there are three schools of thought :

  • None
  • After
  • During

Take your pick, I prefer during, they are hot, relevant to that part of the talk, but require some control, otherwise your talk can easily over run, or put you off track.

Do you need to give out handouts, I personally think not, I used to do it, but saw so many in the bin or left on tables, so now I tend to hand out cards or put up a link as one of my last slides.


I have attended so many interview schools, all offering something different, and garenteed interview success, happily I did not pay for any of them, companies sent me. But I learned one common theme, Preparation, Presentation, Politeness.

Preparation is as before, only this time it's a CV, and game plan, what do I say. Be prepaired to present your self, practice.

Presentation is smart, clean, conservative dress, clean suite, tie for the chaps or smart neckline for the girls, and that does not mean low, overpowering perfume is also a no no.

Politeness is just good manners, a “good morning or afternoon”, and a thank you at the end, and speak when appropriate. Do not take command and do not interrupt.

Always have a small briefcase, with just what you need, walking in with a flight bag, is not required. If you have a presentation on PowerPoint put it on a memory stick, you just might be happy you did, but don't push it,

A small notepad is ok, don't spend all the interview bent over it, but use it to make short notes on a point, a telephone number or a name.

Do not put your CV on an iPad and hand it over.

  • You don't want a stranger having the opportunity of trawling through your machine,
  • You might just embaris the interviewer because he does not know how to use it.

I always take a sample of my drawings, if I am trying to get work for my practice, with the latest first, I don't want to fumble about looking deep into the pile for a section, it needs to be on top.


Be prepared to leave a paper sample of work, and your CV, plus a card, even if you do not work for anyone, a card is a quick easy contact method, offering to bump your phone is not. But making your own is easy, several machines are usually dotted about airports, the tv has some great adverts for making cards or try one of the many online program's.

Today's photo is a screen grab I took off the history channel re the area of land associated with the Catholic Church, vs the Orthodox church Vs the Muslim faith in about 1090 ish, or about the time of the crusades, I am preparing a presentation on the rise of the crusades, and this map is part of it, I will make my own map for the presentation as I want to show the routes travelled though Europe, plus the position of some of the early major battles.

Which brings me to my repository of photos I use for slides, I nearly always include a photo, it takes the eye away from the often boring text and offers an alternative focus point.

In all, presenting or attending an interview are much the same, you can win or loose loads just by not paying attention to the small points, and in preparation, so take time, practice and prepair, and just be polite, it's wins every time.