Firdaus Sukiman has used various Computer-Aided drafting software as AutoCAD 2007, Catia, NX-4, Pro-E. Since then, he has developed a keen interest in CAD, and has continued to enhance his experience with more 2D and 3D drafting software of various kinds through client assignments in AcePLP.
MAC catches up with the quirky dude on his first assignment at Omni-Crest Engineering & Construction.
How did it feel to go on your first client assignment?
The feeling of going on my first assignment was pretty nerve-wrecking! I was really not fully prepared for what was to come. It was exciting news too, however, because I had been eager to get involved in a drafting job ever since I was introduced to SolidWorks in ITE Tampines back in 2007.
What were your initial impressions of working on-site at Omni-crest?
Living in Singapore, you would constantly find yourself around tons of construction sites; even seeing them developed right before our eyes within 2-3 years might seem the norm. But being involved in the action is a totally different story! Who would have thought that employees in various positions – project managers, engineers, safety officers and construction workers – actually work round the clock to ensure the development within due date set by the main contractor?
What were the challenges you faced while on-site?
In my first few weeks, the difficulty lay in being the only one who was familiar with AutoCAD on the project. I had no one on the project to approach if I had problems with the drawings or was unsure of the software commands.
Another challenge presented itself when I was told that the building was erected in 1982. This meant there was no existing plan view of the site and I needed to create one from scratch. As I was constructing the plan, I found details given were lacking, which made it hard to continue the drawing.
At the same time, I had to complete the drawings according to BCA/URA guidelines (e.g. floor to floor offsets, staircase steps, riser minimum length) and also be compliant with CP83 standards. Following the guidelines was one of the biggest challenges I faced throughout the project. I thought would be an easy task, since I had been doing floor plan drawings during classroom training, but in real-life it is different. Singapore is very strict with all development regulations and guidelines, which meant I needed to ensure everything in my site plan drawing was a 100% match to the actual site.
Challenging! How did you cope with that?
Thank God technology has made my life easier with GOOGLE! Everything that I was not sure of, from familiarization and setting of Annotations Scale to finding commands that improve my drafting skills, are all available on the Internet and it was just a click away.
“Even though it’s tough working alone, doing my own research made me more independent. Before you go on-site, it would be good to spend some free time to do research on tips and tricks before your assignment. You should make full use of the ease of obtaining knowledge on the web rather than depending solely on our in-house trainers”.
When I was on the project site at Gul Lane, I was introduced to a consultant from CPG Corporation. She was kind enough to share some E-Books from BCA and URA regarding Singapore construction guidelines. The E-books had helped me a lot with my drawings dimension to meet the requirements needed for submissions. Since Mr Jeya is the Project manager, he provided most of the details that I needed for my daily work. He was very different from most Project Managers I had worked with before; he was a very approachable guy. Not forgetting that both of us had actually done over-time together until 10PM to complete a few drawings before a submission deadline!
What were the memorable moments in your Omni-Crest assignment?
When I faced difficulties in constructing the plan view of the site, I approached the Project Manager, Mr Jeya, numerous times for dimension details. One day, he decided to bring me along to do measuring and levelling on the whole site. When you think of measuring, you would naturally think of measuring the buildings. However, in a real project, measuring means so much more than just the building itself. It includes the offset between a building and a drain, drain width, tree to tree offsets, hydrants location, drain path, fences to building distance, bund wall path, bridge width, greenery width… (by now you should already know how detailed it must be). Besides that, I need to include in the legends for its title block the type of trees on the site.
Working with Omni-Crest was an unforgettable experience for me, since I was exposed to the construction site environment. Being involved in the Nalco (Gul Lane) expansion project was such a good way to start my on-site assignments! This was also my exposure in a field which handles liquid chemicals, which is what Nalco does. However, most of the expansion involved were only the structure of the building, not much of chemical tanks or pipes. Types of drawing that I had to prepare were layout plan, sectioning and elevations.
Now that you’ve experienced working in a construction site, do you think this is a possible career path for you, and why? Or which areas would you be interested in exploring further?
Being in construction can be great for a wide variety of reasons. Firstly, you get relatively high salary in this line. You can easily gain knowledge and information about infrastructure works. You also get the opportunity to meet and work with a wide range of people in different positions and from different backgrounds, which is really interesting.
“However, in construction or in our industry, you have to get used to meeting deadlines and last minute changes in drawings. This translates to doing over-time, sometimes without early notice, of course, sacrificing some personal time to commit to this work.”
With all that said, after all the exposure to structural work and CSD, I would like to explore mechanical parts drawings since I do have a mechanical engineering background. In my opinion, it’s much better to be versatile rather than be a master in just one type of drawing.
Interesting experience! With the learning attitude & commitment you have towards your work, we can already see you beaming your way towards a brighter future.
Got an experience to share? Write in to [email protected] to let us know!