In 2014, Lola Carbajal was ready for a change. After 16 years working as a structural technician in her native Spain, she knew she wanted to move into architecture. What she didn’t know was how’d she’d make the transition.
Researching her options while also interviewing for new roles, she came across Autodesk University. “It seemed like the perfect way to learn about BIM,” she says.
A New World Opens
What she found at AU blew her away: “I’d never been to any conference before,” she says. “Not even a gathering of 30 people. So to see 10,000 people, it was like sci-fi, like a movie.”
What surprised her most?
“Everyone was very open to speaking with you. In fact, they’re keen to help you,” she says. “I took a class from a man whose book I was reading and talked to him after class. It was incredible.”
She used her time to focus on diving deep into BIM workflows in Revit and Navisworks. On the second day of the conference, she got the big call from one of the companies she’d interviewed with, Foster + Partners. She was offered a job as a BIM coordinator. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Moving Ahead with AU
Three years later, Carbajal is still a BIM coordinator at Foster + Partners. No longer a novice, she still calls herself a learner. She routinely manages several projects at a time, most with fewer than 10 architects. “I make the building in BIM, and handle 3D coordination with other team members, as well as help them collaborate and solve problems during the project.”
Every year she returns to AU, choosing one topic to focus on. In 2015, it was design visualization. In 2016, her focus was on how an intelligent BIM model can make building operations and management more efficient.
Connections and Community
While Carbajal has advanced her career with the classroom learning offered at AU, she’s also developed close ties to Autodesk developers and research teams. “I write to them with questions and ideas during the year,” she says. “When Pokémon GO came out, I wrote to them and said, ‘why can’t I see the systems in my buildings with this technology?’ And they told me about Project Dasher [released as Dasher 360 in 2016]—it was something they were already working on.”
She also maintains connections with her AU peers. “There are friends that I’ve made at AU, we see each other in Las Vegas every November,” says Carbajal.
“But we stay in contact and answer questions throughout the year.”
Not everyone will score a dream job because they’re headed to AU, or just because they’ve been. But Carbajal’s story shows that AU can be an important way to give your career a boost, launch a career change, learn a new skill, and meet others who can help you and your career in many various ways.
“To me, AU means motivation and energy for working the whole year,” Carbajal says.
And in her case, it was the piece that tipped the scales in her favor with Foster + Partners. “It was an amazing experience,” she says. “AU changed my life.”