Nevada has been especially hard hit by the recession, recording some of the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the nation. Massive cutbacks across the K-12 and state university budgets have Board of Regents officials warning of an educational “Doomsday” for “The Silver State.”
Last spring, hundreds of University of Las Vegas (UNLV) students held a funeral-themed rally in front of some of the city’s famous casinos on the Strip. Some painted their faces as skeletons or carried tombstone-shaped signs lamenting the death of future career opportunities in the area.
Money aside, Las Vegas Sun education beat reporter Emily Richmond argues that Nevada faces ongoing and deep-rooted cultural obstacles to supporting its schools.
“Clark County has long struggled to build a sense of community. Developers built hundreds of neighborhoods that, with their compoundlike cinder-block walls, did little to encourage neighborliness,” Richmond writes. “Many people see themselves as visitors — passing through town, stopping long enough to capitalize on well-paying construction or hospitality jobs before cashing out and moving on. Such attitudes explain the poor turnouts on back-to-school nights.”
Amidst this climate, DraftSight training specialist Mark Lyons met with the Nevada Association for Career and Technical Education (NACTE) this summer to demonstrate how Dassault Systèmes’ free, professional-grade 2D CAD tool can make a dramatic impact on the state’s drafting programs.
Lyons, a former high school drafting instructor, shared DraftSight with hundreds of fellow CAD, construction and automotive repair teachers. His presentation made a particularly strong impression on the Nevada Department of Education’s Alex Kyser, who oversees the state’s trade and industrial educational programs.
“Mark’s presentation focused on our needs rather than what many software guys do – which is tell you what they want you to buy,” says Kyser, a former CAD teacher in the Las Vegas public schools. “I am totally turned off by hard-sell pitches. Mark gets it. He understands what is happening now.”
Most graduating high school seniors in Nevada have been learning drafting with either the Pro/Engineer, MathCAD, or Autodesk programs, but Kyser is encouraging teachers in all 17 school districts to adopt DraftSight this fall instead.
“We don’t teach to the software. We teach to the concepts,” he says. “We don’t care what software you use as long as you know what your output is supposed to be. If you know the fundamentals, you can quickly learn whichever software your employer prefers.”
“DraftSight is a building software. It focuses on foundation skills and allows teachers to develop students as they prepare to transfer into the 3D world. If you don’t have those basic drafting skills, the 3D world will eat you alive,” Kyser warns.
“You still have to understand 2D. You still draw a plane in 2D and nothing has changed about the way we make shapes and figures. Those concepts aren’t going away,” he adds.
Clark County, which is anchored by Las Vegas, is the fifth largest school district in the United States. With the high school technical education budgets potentially getting slashed by 48 percent next year, teachers have been scrambling for creative ways to save money while minimizing classroom sacrifices as much as possible.
The Caesars Entertainment Corporation, best known for its Roman-themed hotel on the Vegas Strip, recently had its sales and convention team donate a year’s worth of leftover notebooks, pens and other meeting materials to four area middle schools. The estimated savings in school supplies was $43,000.
Every little bit counts, and Kyser estimates that DraftSight could save the Nevada schools $10,000 to $20,000 for each of its 35 CAD programs.
“Does it make sense to spend thousands for a piece of software when you can get the equivalent for free?” he rhetorically asks. “Whenever I hear the word ‘free,” I tend to run away, so I was skeptical at first. But DraftSight surprised me by how well it performs and how easy it is to learn, regardless of the cost.”
“So far the feedback I’m getting from our teachers is great,” Kyser adds. “DraftSight is our answer for 2D.”
Despite the budget challenges, Kyser says he remains encouraged by the passion of his CAD students. He serves as Nevada’s State SkillsUSA Advisor and volunteers as a National Education Team member for the SkillsUSA (link to story about Mass. champion) national drafting competitions, which gives him reasons for optimism.
“We’ve got kids walking off the stage at nationals and companies are passing out their business cards to them,” Kyser says. “One student was told, ‘If you want a job making $70,000 starting next week, call me.’ And this was a senior in high school!”
Students and teachers, you can download your no-cost 2D, professional-grade CAD product today at the DraftSight Education page. Premium Classroom Packs (45 licenses) and Campus Packs (200 licenses) are available for an additional fee, covering telephone and email support, access to our APIs and curriculum.