QA manager Daniel Kuhmann first started using AutoCAD at the ripe old age of 14 on Release 10, developing a great love of the product over the years. When he saw a job opening with the AutoCAD team nine years ago, he thought it seemed like a long shot. But he applied and got the position. Here, Kuhmann shares his role, history with the product, and what makes him most proud of his work with the team.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I manage a team of testers and developers for install, customization, and 3D graphics. I am involved in the high-level, day-to-day decisions for AutoCAD through my role on the core team, defect team, beta team, and other task forces. I also like to get involved with customers by responding to their comments through feedback channels.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I never have a time where I am bored. There is always a lot to do, and I can help make decisions that shape the future of everything about AutoCAD.
What are you most proud of about your work on AutoCAD?
Our customers are my peers and sometimes people that I know. I empathize with our customers and I’m proud when I get to help someone in the industry. A lot of my decision-making is based on how I would have felt a few years ago. If I know I have a solution to a problem, I want to get that solution out to the most people as quickly as possible.
What is one of your favorite stories about interacting with AutoCAD users?
My favorite interaction recently was calling a customer while I was working from home one day. I had been emailing back and forth trying to track down a problem for him; we settled on my watching his computer. As soon as he showed me the problem I knew what he was running into, and I gave him the setting to the change he wanted. It was great to hear how excited he was while on the phone.
Do you have a favorite building, product or cool thing that was designed with AutoCAD?
In Pismo Beach there is a 100-yard stretch of sidewalk that connects a neighborhood with a small shopping center. Before that sidewalk existed people had to drive. The design is awesome, including a retaining wall, drainage structures, several curb ramps, and a connection to neighboring accessible routes. My favorite part is that it gets people out and moving. I designed it in AutoCAD including Civil 3D; every time I see it I am excited to see how used it is and how well it is doing 10 years later.
What is your personal observation about the AutoCAD community?
I think our customers are so interesting. Each one of them is just fascinating. While I was learning AutoCAD, everything I drew was mechanical parts or architectural floor plans. I started working for land surveyors, land developers, California Department of Transportation, and a pavement design company. AutoCAD users all seemed to fit in a specific mold in my small world.
But, working for Autodesk, I have met customers who do amazing designs in AutoCAD including a few of my favorites: concert stages, product displays, store fronts, the aisles of stores, nuclear reactors, jets, Disneyland, solar arrays, realistic renderings, my bathroom sink, and a point cloud array of a massive banyan tree. It is easy to think that AutoCAD is a tool to draw 2D lines and arcs to represent a model. In reality the community is made up of makers, designers, and engineers who make everything around us and each person is so capable of using the tool in a unique and amazing way.