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Thread: M.U.D. to get job in consulting?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2010
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    BC, Canada
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    M.U.D. to get job in consulting?

    From what I see here, consulting work seems to have been hit as hard if not more than public sector work. I would like to explore consulting work after 5 years in the public sector, as I really enjoy project management and feel enthusiastic when I am able to move forward on projects. I am trying to determine specifically if pursuing an MUD is a good path to get into consulting. It would take me 1 1/2 years (part-time) and cost me at least $25,000 in tuition and lost wages going to part-time work.

    Elsewhere in this forum, I have read mixed reviews of the value of an MUD for a non-designer. I.e. one year won't make you a designer; LA's and arcitects will do the design work anyway, etc.

    It seems to me many of the areas I am interested in - particularly sustainability of urban areas; infill, redevelopment and TOD; walking and cycling; area and neighborhood planning - have a strong design element. As a policy MA, I do not have skills in drawing and design, but find myself thinking very spatially, enjoy GIS, and managed a form-based code update with design support. I also found I had a better grip on the holistic elements of downtown design (retail market viability, design of vibrant public space, how parking functions, infill opportunities, etc.) than did a professional designer we hired. All of this led to an interest in urban design.

    That said, I particularly like working with people, like the charette process, and don't have the intent to be a design technician at a computer all day (even if I could).

    Will the time, money, and late nights at a computer be worth it if I pursue an M.U.D? And will there be relevant jobs in the next couple years? I'd appreciate perspective from consultants in particular.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
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    2,785
    I have worked in consulting for the past 5 years doing both design and non-design work. I started college in architecture and then switched to planning after 2 years. My degree is non-design based (more policy, research, and analysis) but I have managed to do site design, construction documents, planting plans, architectural pattern books, renderings, etc. from working side by side with landscape architects for 7 years. I can do 100% construction documents but have not had formal training in irrigation, site grading, etc. On the design side, I typically work in AutoCAD, Sketchup, Revit, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Flash, hand renderings and sketches, etc. I also juggle GIS (ESRI and non-ESRI), GPS, and am learning Microstation (to redlining engineering work). I self taught myself many of these programs and refined them through various projects in internships, school work, and professional work.

    You will learn a great deal about design, especially at the conceptual level, with an MUD, moreso than someone with no design training. Will that lead to guaranteed work as a designer? It will be an uphill battle because you will still be competing for urban designer positions, when they are available, with people with formal training in architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, etc. The recession has heightened competition on all fronts. I think it's ridiculous that you would need an actual architecture or landscape architecture degree to do conceptual urban design work but that is the playing field.

    I am very skeptical about MUDs in general. Yes, they are graduate degrees but are often used as supplemental or specialized degrees that provide additional training for architects and landscape architects. Not every program goes in the same level of technical detail as architecture or landscape architecture so people with no design experience or training will not have the same technical training as a designer.

    I would start putting together a basic portfolio, which you will need regardless. If you don't have design projects, it can be a collection of drawings, sketches, renderings, elevations, site designs, etc. See previous posts on how to "create your own work/entries" when you first start assembling your portfolio. You may want to consider downloading trial versions of Sketchup, Illustrator, and learning the ins and outs of these to add to the portfolio. This could be used as a standalone portfolio or as a tool for admissions into a design degree program.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    BC, Canada
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    218
    Thanks, nrschmid. I looked at some of your previous posts and realize you do quite a bit of design work (the downtown plan you described reminds me of what I wish our consultant had done).

    I guess I consider myself a planner first and a designer second - in your experience will being able to use sketchup, adobe creative suite, etc. be useful in getting jobs at firms that prepare area plans, redevelopment/revitalization plans, pedestrian plans, form based codes and other illustrative regulations, etc.? I feel I have a solid conceptual understanding of public space and design issues. I guess I didn't expect one year would give me the experience to do technical drawings or detail work at more than a conceptual level.

    Would learning a design skill set (both conceptually, which to an extent I have, and as far as using software) make me a more attractive planner for a planning firm? Or is it necessary to be a full-fledged designer before the skills are considered useful?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
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    2,785
    Don't make this too complicated...yet Just swipe a pencil and paper and start sketching "stuff" out: city plans, building elevations, perspectives, etc. I often sketch out graphics and designs on large yellow post-its to get my design ideas across to my boss and others. The software programs are merely tools to refine those ideas, either into full-fledged conceptual illustrations, construction documents, 3D models, etc. It took me a good two years of practice to understand the intricacies of AutoCAD (including all of the tips and tricks to improve my proficiency, which is never taught in books or the classroom). I would say it also took me two years of reviewing plans (site, architecture, planting, etc.) to understand feasible design (site, architectural, and planting designs that can be feasibly created AND approved within a community). I reviewed work from several firms that were very proficient at 3DS Max, Maya, Autodesk Impression, Illustrator. Unfortunately, these firms knew very little about feasible turn radii, parking lot design, building materials, or hardy plant material that wasn't from a nursery 200 miles away.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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