Behind every computer are miles and miles of cables that keep the information systems on campus connected to the UI network and the rest of the world. Draftsmen such as Jeff Carder, a chief engineering draftsman at Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services, are responsible for designing and documenting the infrastructure that supports computing and communications on campus. After graduating from Jamaica High School, Carder earned an associate’s degree in architectural engineering from ITT Technical Institute in Indianapolis in 1990 and worked for Daily & Associates in Champaign for nine years as a land surveyor and draftsman. Carder has been an employee at the UI since September 2000.
Tell me about your job.
When I started, our group, plant engineering, then a part of the Computing Communications and Services Office, had no draftsmen. The designers and engineers in the office did their own drafting, but with the ever-increasing workload, weren’t able to keep up. Before I was hired, everybody pretty much just did things the way they knew how to do them using the AUTOCAD program, so there needed to be standardization about how drawings looked and how they were managed.
What kinds of projects do you work on?
About five years ago the Campus Upgrade project began. It’s an ongoing project that entails installation of new wiring and equipment for the campus networking infrastructure. We had to come up with a drawing format that could be sent out to contractors showing proposed work so they could easily bid on it. After the work is completed, we add the as-built information to the drawings in our library to ensure they are up-to-date. I am responsible for managing the library, which includes floor plans for every campus building, cabling routes, manhole details, communications distribution sites and grid drawings. We’re still working on standardizing the drawings for buildings that haven’t had a lot of work done or weren’t part of the campus upgrade.
Our office is responsible for the internal infrastructure, such as jacks and wiring inside buildings, and for the external infrastructure – bringing connectivity to the campus from outside entities, such as telephone companies – through underground cabling and communications distribution sites called nodes, then to distribution points in each building, then to your desktop. Much of this information is shown on our grid drawings, which are overhead views of the campus showing streets and buildings, and the location of our telecom equipment.
In addition, we receive AUTOCAD drawings from architectural and engineering firms about building remodels and new construction. The other two draftsmen in our group worked previously as draftsmen in firms such as these and are familiar with differences in drafting methods, styles and standards. This experience, along with exceptional knowledge of AUTOCAD, allows them to generate many suggestions and solutions for standardization, and we try to corral all of those ideas.
How much time does it take you to convert drawings?
It depends on the size of the project. The Memorial Stadium renovation was a remodel but it was almost like a new construction because there were so many drawings. It was a big project: A couple of us worked on that one for several weeks. We’re always coming across things from the outside that are hard to deal with or that we have to think about in order to get them into our standards.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the flexibility of working mostly inside, but being able to go out sometimes to measure as-builts or collect other information. I enjoy being mostly inside now because being a land surveyor required me to be outside no matter what the weather was like. I also enjoy the variety of work.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
My family owns a lodge on a lake in northwestern Ontario in a secluded area only accessible by boat. I go up early in the spring as soon as the ice is gone to get the camp ready for my parents, who spend most of the summer there. Then my family and I go up for a couple of weeks in early June. In July, we go to Table Rock Lake in Missouri, where my wife’s family has vacationed for many years. The Missouri trip is swimming and boating, and the Canada trip is fishing and enjoying the seclusion.
My wife, Toni, and I have two kids – a daughter, Aleah, who’s 10, and a son, Owen, who’s 7. When I am not at work, I’m playing ball, riding bikes, playing games, or whatever the kids have in mind. My family is very involved in the Catlin Church of Christ, where I serve as a deacon, and my wife and I teach the fifth- and sixth-grade Sunday School class.
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