Richard Kendall, Marriott School of Management
The financial support awarded to me helped contribute to one of the greatest experiences of my life. My main goal for my project was to effectively help an architectural company by teaching them the techniques of computer-aided design (CAD).
During winter semester of 1994, I studied CAD extensively and tried to qualify myself to teach the computer program. During this time I was communicating with Autodesk Company, the maker of the most popular CAD program. I made them aware of my project and asked what they could make available to assist me. They informed me that the Autodesk Company was not currently doing any translation work into Portuguese. Eventually they gave me the names of books that had been published in Brazil to teach the program in the Portuguese language. I was also informed that there were no immediate plans to translate the program into Portuguese. At this point, not wanting to do something that had already been done, I put on hold my plans to write a translated manual until I could further evaluate the situation in Brazil. I researched the existing tutorial manuals in English and purchased one that I felt would be the most useful.
Upon arriving in Brazil at the end of April, I was put in touch with the architects I would be assisting. They obtained a copy of the program we would be using. Unfortunately, one of the most important things I learned is the reason why computer companies have such a difficult time writing programs in many foreign languages. It is not the lack of skill or of qualified people, but rather the great amount of software pirating that occurs in many less developed countries. I also realized that English is (more than I thought) the official language for computer software and people don’t mind (and even expect) to use English vocabulary when using many computer programs. With the great amount of software pirating that I saw in Brazil, it is no wonder companies like Autodesk do not find it in their best interest yet to invest the money to translate the programs. I also noticed that very few companies can afford the equipment to use programs as intensive as the CAD programs.
I obtained copies of the existing instructive literature in Portuguese and began to teach them the basics of CAD. They had a strong desire to learn it in English since the program would probably not be available in Portuguese for several years. We concentrated on the English materials I had brought with me.
During the first week I was in Brazil, I had a very fortunate invitation. The local university was beginning to develop a class designed to teach CAD. I was asked to work with the teacher, who already had a little experience with CAD, to help develop a method of teaching the class. I worked with him to develop an outline and suggested sample drawings that guided students through the learning of the program. We studied both the Portuguese and the English manual I had brought (which was far more comprehensive than theirs). We were able to organize the basis of a class he is beginning to teach this year.
This experience also had a major obstacle. The university was going through some heated debates and ended up going on strike for much of the time I was there. This caused me to be alone a lot in the computer lab and it was very difficult to get one-on-one contact with the instrnctor. Several times the whole university was shut down. The work I accomplished at the university was very rewarding although that part of my internship was not originally anticipated when I wrote my proposal.
I would like to again personally thank BYU, especially those who were involved in the decision to make these funds available to undergraduate students. Without this financial assistance, I would not have been able to help the people in Brazil improve their CAD skills. I also learned a great deal and am continuing to prepare myself to work in the international business world. My experience facilitated by my research scholarship will undoubtedly make myself more prepared to enter graduate school and more competitive as I enter the work force.