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Mandatory Career Change
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synthfiend
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May 3, 2011, 06:59 PM
 
I hope someone out there can shed light on this. It's a doozy.

I am a graphic designer. I use Photoshop, Illustrator and a 3D app on a daily basis. I build and modify models, apply texture maps to them, render them, and then they become point of sale displays, vehicle wraps, etc.

I just learned today that I will continue doing these things, but will also need to learn to build cad-accurate models for engineering. Essentially machines that will be built later on after the visual design has been approved.

I've been asked to (on my own dime) select a college where I need to seek a mechanical engineering degree, learn a new cad program in a week, and begin working with an engineering team after that. I will continue to do the visual designs, but I need to ensure that cad-accurate models are built, too.

Now, before I seem like I'm bellyaching, I want to do all the above, except go get a 4 year engineering degree.

Is this something any other designers working in 3D have faced? Also, is this in any way unreasonable to anyone? I learned that these additional responsibilities will not be coming with any kind of a raise, I will be the only one on my team doing this, and I have been informed that I may be expected to work in excess of 80 hours a week, including being on call to handle incoming requests on the weekends.

The person doing all this is not my boss. He is a part-owner of the company and did not understand that 3D models in a program like Strata, or Cinema 4D, or Max, CANNOT be used for manufacturing. He just sort of glazed over and said the guy building the models "isn't available".

Can I get a what the hell, or is this how things go nowadays? Or is this a constructive discharge?
     
King Bob On The Cob
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May 3, 2011, 07:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by synthfiend View Post
I hope someone out there can shed light on this. It's a doozy.

I am a graphic designer. I use Photoshop, Illustrator and a 3D app on a daily basis. I build and modify models, apply texture maps to them, render them, and then they become point of sale displays, vehicle wraps, etc.

I just learned today that I will continue doing these things, but will also need to learn to build cad-accurate models for engineering. Essentially machines that will be built later on after the visual design has been approved.

I've been asked to (on my own dime) select a college where I need to seek a mechanical engineering degree, learn a new cad program in a week, and begin working with an engineering team after that. I will continue to do the visual designs, but I need to ensure that cad-accurate models are built, too.

Now, before I seem like I'm bellyaching, I want to do all the above, except go get a 4 year engineering degree.

Is this something any other designers working in 3D have faced? Also, is this in any way unreasonable to anyone? I learned that these additional responsibilities will not be coming with any kind of a raise, I will be the only one on my team doing this, and I have been informed that I may be expected to work in excess of 80 hours a week, including being on call to handle incoming requests on the weekends.

The person doing all this is not my boss. He is a part-owner of the company and did not understand that 3D models in a program like Strata, or Cinema 4D, or Max, CANNOT be used for manufacturing. He just sort of glazed over and said the guy building the models "isn't available".

Can I get a what the hell, or is this how things go nowadays? Or is this a constructive discharge?
They're either trying to get you to quit, or ridiculously stupid. Do you have a contract?
     
phantomdragonz
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May 3, 2011, 07:44 PM
 
as a current mechanical engineering student, thats not an easy task...
if all you need is some basic 3d modeling experience (solidworks, Pro E) then that can be done easily,

but drafting and designing a part that can actually be built is what an engineer goes to school for. Designing the aesthetics should be a collaboration between two people, not one. These are two completely opposite skill sets. (my experience is that most engineers are not good artists, but they can build a mechanical machine with ease)

I am not saying it can't be done, but for you "boss" to ask you to get to work next week doing this, and by the way you need a 4 year degree like now.... seems like he is trying to ask too much of you so he can fire you.

personally I would start looking for jobs...

-Zach
     
Dork.
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May 3, 2011, 08:23 PM
 
(Disclaimer: I'm an Electrical Engineer who got a C in my only MechE class in college.)

To go further on what Zach said, learning a 3D design tool is difficult but not overly so, especially for a graphic designer who already has a sense of designing things in 3D. If all you are doing is taking existing products (or working with an engineering team that supplies the design) and implementing the design in the 3D CAD program so it can be manufactured, then that alone isn't too bad. (But what were they using before to make this stuff?) You don't need a 4-year degree just to use a CAD program. You need the 4-year degree to be able to determine the requirements of a new job and design new doohickeys effectively.

On the other hand, it's absurd for him to just expect you to go and get an Engineering degree because he needs an engineer. He needs to go out and hire an Engineer.

He hasn't thought this through. Lets say you did go out and get that MechE degree. With that in your pocket and your Design background, you could probably get a much better job, with a boss who isn't clueless.
     
synthfiend  (op)
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May 3, 2011, 08:29 PM
 
I met with HR and stated that if they wanted me to be an engineer, we could discuss it with myself, "him" and HR present.
I already build models, but models in a typical app are not solid geometry, and they sure aren't accurate enough for engineering.

I'll be meeting with them tomorrow. I'm pretty much going in knowing I'm dead, but I'm sticking to my guns. It's absurd. It's the same thing as me making a model of the space shuttle and then being told I need to design a full electrical schematic (and not screw it up). Some people seem to think that graphic designers are engineers, doctors, psychiatrists, and mind readers.

I have a rash. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

I'll check in tomorrow and let you know what happened.
     
turtle777
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May 3, 2011, 08:37 PM
 
I agree with what's been said.
It boils down to this: The part-owner is an idiot.

Sorry, but sooner or later, you'll need to find a new job.

-t
     
Thorzdad
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May 3, 2011, 08:43 PM
 
If I were a betting man, I'd say you're under the thumb of a clueless boss, who thinks everything is as simple as taking a couple of classes to learn the software and, bingo, you're an engineer. I've worked with those sorts. In their minds, it's just clicking a couple of things and the software does the real work.

Polish-up the resume, bro.
     
andi*pandi
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May 3, 2011, 10:13 PM
 
It's one thing for a boss to offer you an opportunity to grow, and support that education... but to put in the work to learn a completely different new skill, there should be more pay. In fact, when I learned web design I did get a raise, and I expect engineering to be an even bigger learning jump than between print and web design.

Agreed that he is trying to have one person do two jobs.
     
mattyb
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May 4, 2011, 05:03 AM
 
I'd go to HR and ask them about how you'll be paid during the four year degree, what sort of allowances you have, that you'll have a guaranteed post when you come back, what sort of costs the compnay is going to meet etc. Don't be negative, never say that you can't do it. How is your boss going to cover for you, are the extra hours paid overtime, do you need to adjust your holidays for when the college is on holiday etc etc. Tons and tons of questions.
     
Waragainstsleep
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May 4, 2011, 05:34 AM
 
10 Years ago I worked in a multiplex cinema. I was fortunate enough to go from doing menial work downstairs to be a junior projectionist. Within a couple of days of learning how to thread a film through a projector, they asked me to mend a sink behind the concessions stand. Turned out the projectionists were also expected to do any maintenance they felt they could do in the building with no training whatsoever. Fixing chairs, repairing fixtures and fittings etc etc.

Doesn't sound like much but I was 17 and had never done any DIY at all. And was on a pathetic hourly rate compared with the senior "Technicians" who were very well salaried and actually not much better at anything than I was after a short time in the booth.
That said, when I told them I wasn't a plumber and had a look at it anyway, they didn't complain.

My last boss once sent me on a training course. He made me sign a contract saying that if I left within 2 years I had to contribute retrospectively to the cost of the training. I asked him how much more money I was going to get and I will never forget the confused look on his face. He really didn't understand why he should pay me more for being more qualified, doing more advanced work and ultimately helping to gain his business some certifications it didn't have before. It will never again amaze me to hear a story like yours.

Your contract really shouldn't allow your employer to increase your working hours without renegotiation. Or Overtime.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Big Mac
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May 4, 2011, 08:26 AM
 
This sounds like a very unprofessional, highly absurd demand. What size company are we talking about here?

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Thorzdad
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May 4, 2011, 08:47 AM
 
He just sort of glazed over and said the guy building the models "isn't available".
Translation: I fired the guy doing the models to save costs, without having a clue what it would take to replace him.

Unfortunately, in many small to medium companies, you run into this "jack-of-all-trades" mind-set a lot these days.
     
imitchellg5
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May 4, 2011, 09:01 AM
 
Time to find a new job.
     
OldManMac
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May 4, 2011, 01:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Time to find a new job.
This. They're either trying to force you out, or they're totally clueless, and too ignorant to be working for.
Why is there always money for war, but none for education?
     
olePigeon
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May 4, 2011, 01:44 PM
 
This is your boss:

"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Dork.
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May 4, 2011, 01:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by OldManMac View Post
This. They're either trying to force you out, or they're totally clueless, and too ignorant to be working for.
But you can't just snap your fingers and get a new job. In the meantime, he has to figure out how to survive at his current employer while looking, or quit now and just not eat for a few months.
     
torsoboy
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May 4, 2011, 01:49 PM
 
Since you said it wasn't your boss who told you all of this, it would seem that the logical thing to do would be to go to your boss and talk to him about it. He would then talk to the co-owner. It seems odd that you would want to talk with the co-owner directly (who you said doesn't understand that 3D models in a program like Strata, or Cinema 4D, or Max, cannot be used for manufacturing), instead of your boss.
     
synthfiend  (op)
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May 4, 2011, 07:01 PM
 
They are in the process of hiring a CAD guy with Autocad and Max experience. I'm re-doing my resume tonight.
I'm really sad, but this isn't a good fit for me if they can just replace me like that. After all, graphic designers have a "secret" engineering degree we don't tell anyone about. ;-)
I haven't done anything wrong, and they've been thrilled with my work—I've generated a stupid amount of business for them.
     
Brien
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May 4, 2011, 07:12 PM
 
So they already had a replacement lined up then? Yeah, sounds like constructive dismissal to me.
     
turtle777
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May 4, 2011, 10:00 PM
 
What a bunch of jerks. I'm sorry you have to go through this.

-t
     
imitchellg5
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May 4, 2011, 11:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by synthfiend View Post
They are in the process of hiring a CAD guy with Autocad and Max experience. I'm re-doing my resume tonight.
I'm really sad, but this isn't a good fit for me if they can just replace me like that. After all, graphic designers have a "secret" engineering degree we don't tell anyone about. ;-)
I haven't done anything wrong, and they've been thrilled with my work—I've generated a stupid amount of business for them.
Good luck, it sounds like you're really an invaluable asset that another company would be wise to take advantage of... in the right manner.
     
brassplayersrock²
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May 5, 2011, 01:33 AM
 
yeah, they were arses. good thing you wont have to deal with them anymore;
     
andi*pandi
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May 5, 2011, 08:59 AM
 
Their conversation with the new guy a week after you leave: "So, you know photoshop and illustrator and all that, right?"
     
turtle777
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May 5, 2011, 11:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Their conversation with the new guy a week after you leave: "So, you know photoshop and illustrator and all that, right?"


-t
     
finboy
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May 5, 2011, 12:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Their conversation with the new guy a week after you leave: "So, you know photoshop and illustrator and all that, right?"
OP: Sounds like they were trying to get rid of you. I think you should tell them to FOAD if you possibly can.

It is only through things such as this that they will learn the ways of grown-up business, grasshopper.
     
synthfiend  (op)
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May 5, 2011, 09:06 PM
 
Hmmm. They're having trouble.
The 2 blokes they interviewed don't know (real quote from one here) frou-frou graphics. Just good hard nosed CAD.
It hurt me deep inside that they wouldn't work for any less than 65 a year.

I think I may actually have time to find something new before they kick me to the curb.
     
el chupacabra
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May 6, 2011, 12:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by synthfiend View Post
I haven't done anything wrong, and they've been thrilled with my work—I've generated a stupid amount of business for them.
This is how the (failed cut throat legal shield) corporate model works; you could make a 6 mil contract for them and there still would be no appreciation for your accomplishments or time put in.

My advice is to become an expert in autocad (this is actually very important skill) or whatever as fast as possible and see if they decide to keep you. I think you are right in saying it's not a good fit for you if you can be replaced like that. In this economy things might not be much better anywhere else so learning new skills is key. Try to avoid the engineering degree, this will take too much time and isnt an easy degree anyway... If you think you can get through something like calc 2 or 3, well this is what engineering is like. It's no fun; Its a world apart from graphic design

I know everyone here is saying look for a new job but it might be easier to keep the one you have than to find a new one. Perhaps if you have another meeting have something prepared as to show how much profit and value you add to the company.
     
Dork.
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May 6, 2011, 07:03 AM
 
No, I think he needs to start looking. It's clear from his posts that he's had enough of this place. But even if he likes working there, he needs to start looking. If he has an offer from another place in hand, he may get a counteroffer from his current employer to stay, It's not unheard of. At that point, he has choices and leverage, which is always good.
     
OreoCookie
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May 6, 2011, 08:02 AM
 
I agree with the others: you should start working on a plan b even if your immediate goal is to stay with the company. Bosses with unreasonable expectations are not fun to work with in the end.

I'm also not sure about el chupacabra's advice to learn autocad: not that I think it's a good idea to learn a new skill, but even if you know how to draw models with autocad instead of, say, 3d Max or Maya, that still won't make you an engineer.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
synthfiend  (op)
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May 6, 2011, 11:45 AM
 
Thanks everyone. I am planning to stay for the time being. But, I am sharply aware that problems like this rarely get better. They only get worse. I'll learn a cad program that can output solid surfaces, but I won't learn Autocad. It's on the way out, and since I use Cinema, why not try Vectorworks or Rhino?
     
Waragainstsleep
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May 6, 2011, 06:24 PM
 
Employers with unrealistic ideas about things, who don't appreciate hard work and value in their employees are impossible to please in the long run and are unworthy of the effort. I've been there and I played it wrong by continually trying to prove my loyalty and dedication and only ever seeing it thrown back in my face.

By all means stay for the time being if it pays your bills, but I would be lining up something else at the earliest opportunity if I were you. Just keep your plans to yourself until you have an offer.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ghporter
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May 7, 2011, 09:25 AM
 
If it were "get this degree, and we'll pay for it," that would be one thing. It is not. It is Bad Management, bad leadership (lower case because they probably can't spell leadership), and a honkingly large red flag. Use your spare time to whip Plan B into shape immediately, not to "learn a new program in a week" or whatever. If they really want you to do the work, they will adjust their expectations. If they are as clueless as they sound, you'll be much better off visible to recruiters long before the boss figures out that you're not going to snap your fingers and become an engineer because he wants you to.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
synthfiend  (op)
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May 7, 2011, 10:27 AM
 
Oh, I'm on it.
     
brassplayersrock²
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May 9, 2011, 01:13 AM
 
     
   
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