COM grad sees drawings come to life
Tim Gaude deftly rotates the 3D model across his screen, viewing the image from every angle with the software familiarized in sci-fi and action movie montages.
Gaude specializes in drafting electrical plans for commercial and residential buildings at Luna Engineering and Design in Texas City. A job requiring detail and precision, it’s a rewarding one for him.
“To me it’s like playtime. Sometimes I don’t even remember to eat lunch,” he said.
He hasn’t always felt enthusiastic about work. Four years ago, feeling stuck in yet another unfulfilling job, he opened his mail to find a College of the Mainland schedule. Flipping it open, he spied a description of the drafting program.
“I thought, ‘This is a sign,’” he said.
Remembering that he’d enjoyed a drafting class in high school, he enrolled in the program and embarked on a journey toward a new career.
At COM he reveled in exploring the complexities of industry-standard AutoCAD (computer-aided drafting) software. He even enjoyed learning the underpinnings of drafting – geometry, trigonometry and algebra.
In math classes, he found an ally in COM instructor Frank Huerta, whom he later hired as a tutor.
“He made math like child’s play,” Gaude remembered.
During Gaude’s two and a half years at COM, he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in drafting plus three certifications: CAD Drafting, 2D/3D Modeling and Industrial Drafting.
Education transformed his future – and his attitude.
“I give COM credit for turning me around. I could see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “When I was young I was OK with C’s. That’s not OK now. (You) might as well do 150 percent – anything else is a waste of time.”
One teacher in particular made a difference.
“Andrew Gregory is the person who inspired me to do well,” said Gaude. “He’s turned into a friend now that I have graduated.”
While a student intern for Gregory the COM drafting department, Gaude compiled a library of CAD blocks, which are often-used images of groups of 2D or 3D objects. Beginning with ready-made CAD blocks saves students time and prevents them from needing to redraw standard objects.
“Tim is a mature, conscientious student who had a clear goal that he worked diligently to attain,” said Gregory.
In Gaude’s final semester Gregory arranged for him to work at TDS Workforce Performance Solutions in Clear Lake to gain real-world experience. Gaude applied his newfound knowledge to look at completed piping and instrumentation drawings and rework the information so they could be used in training materials.
One day as he puzzled over drawings, he called his professor.
“I was stuck, freaking out. (Gregory) drove from Galveston to Clear Lake and sat with me and showed me how to do it,” he said. “Never again did I run into a roadblock like that.”
Gaude continued working as a contractor for the company intermittently before taking his current full-time job.
Now he drafts plans for buildings and edits others’ designs. He especially enjoys the 3D modeling on a computer to examine a design from all angles.
“For once in my life I wake up excited to go to work,” he said. “There’s so much that I still have to learn. It’s always something new."