An interview with Brady Sylvester:
Brady started with Digital School Technical Design College as an Admissions Advisor and Assistant Manager in 2012. He is currently working with Digital School’s course development team on their online courses. Digital School is already offering their Computer Aided Drafter Certificate as an online program, licensed by Alberta Advanced Education, and as they move forward, they will be developing their Architectural CAD Technician and Engineering CAD Technician diplomas into online programs as well, available to anyone around the world.
CanBIM recently had the chance to speak with Brady about Digital School’s role in CAD/BIM education and how they are helping to progress BIM principles and processes in the educational realm.
CanBIM: Can you tell us a little bit about Digital School?
Brady: Digital School is a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Career college where the focus remains on CAD throughout the trajectory of the educational program. There are few college training options for individuals who want to pursue a career in CAD in Alberta, and Digital School helps to provide those options to students and potential CAD professionals.
CanBIM: What sort of educational programs are available at Digital School?
Brady: There is a Computer Aided Drafter Certificate program that lasts 6 months where students learn the fundamentals of being an effective drafter, and are not just trained in a particular technology or software, but are immersed in courses that help them to be a well-rounded CAD professional. Students learn applicable skills through courses such as Technical Mathematics, Construction Materials and Methods and even Drawing Techniques and Theory. After the 6-month program, students have the opportunity to register for an additional 6 months to specialize in an Architectural CAD Technician and Engineering CAD Technician Diploma program. Students can choose this complete educational pathway from the beginning or near the end of their first 6-month Computer Aided Drafter Certificate program, but most of our students do go on to complete a 12-month diploma program either way. Furthermore, the Engineering CAD Technician program also allows for further specialization in Process Piping which most of our Engineering students take.
Lead Architectural Program Instructor Antonio Cuan (at whiteboard).
CanBIM: What sets Digital School apart from other private vocational post-secondary colleges?
Brady: Firstly, Digital School is not a traditional 2-year educational college where students attend 2 semesters, with a break in the spring/ summer. Our programs are completed in a year or less and are every bit as thorough as a 2-year program from a traditional college. We also have a quarterly intake cycle (October, January, April, and July) with continual rollover which allows our students to start an educational CAD program within a maximum time period of 3 months, unlike a traditional college program where students will have to wait at least until January of the next year or even sometimes the next fall session if they missed the traditional fall deadline. Also, students who start in January will have to make up the time they missed so there’s no way around that two-year timeline except in choosing Digital School.
CanBIM: What can you tell us about kind of students that attend Digital School?
Brady: We have a wide variety of students that attend Digital School, from various disciplines. We do have students that come right out of high school, but we also have a large percentage of students that come here from abroad. Some of our international students are actually architects or engineers in their respective home countries but their degrees and certifications are not recognized in Canada. In going to Digital School, these students are provided certification within Canada as well the knowledge of CAD and BIM processes that apply here. This helps our international students who have high qualifications from abroad to interface with Canadian companies who quickly see that they are effective workers with previous academic qualification as well as a knowledge in CAD and BIM that applies to Canada.
CanBIM: Why do you think it was important for Digital School to join the CanBIM community?
Brady: Digital School has been on board with CanBIM for years now to promote BIM principles and concepts. We hosted a BIM seminar for the city of Edmonton in 2013 where we had prominent speakers from the BIM community such as Klaas Rodenburg, as well as a graduate from Digital School, Tabitha Skaronek who works for DIALOG and was involved in the BIM aspects of the multibillion dollar, downtown Edmonton Arena project. It’s important for Digital School to be a part of CanBIM because we know that BIM is the future of CAD and it would be doing our students a disservice if we were not heavily involved with organizations like CanBIM.
CanBIM: You say that BIM is the future of CAD, so what future direction do you think BIM education will take?
Brady: That’s an interesting question because there is still so much about BIM that is growing and developing through discussion within the community, and we at Digital School want to be a part of that conversation. We want our students, more than anything, to leave Digital School ready to step into a BIM environment no matter where they get a job. No matter how deeply involved in BIM it is, whether it is the multiple dimensions of BIM which are often talked about, we want our students to be able to step into that environment and be comfortable with the concepts and workflows regardless of whether or not they are going to have to do some on-boarding with the company to adjust to the specific processes that a particular company uses.
Digital School - Head Instructor Dr. Muhib Rahmatalla.
CanBIM: Having said that, what would you say Digital School does to drive home the importance of BIM with your students?
Brady: All of our students do online courses through our partner Global eTraining, who is also another CanBIM member, called BIM 101 and BIM 201. We have our students complete these courses early in their education so that they understand what these processes are, and as they are going through their classes, their instructors are able to talk about BIM principles when applicable, where applicable, and the students will already have a frame of reference to understand how the core material relates to BIM as a whole.
CanBIM: Is there anything you would like to mention to our readers about Digital School?
Brady: One thing I didn’t mention was our move to our beautiful new building and location right on the edge of the North Saskatchewan River Valley in downtown Edmonton. It’s truly an inspiration for our students to be surrounded by more construction cranes than have ever been seen in this city in decades.