Your CAD Trainer Guy's Parallel 40-year Path


Yep, Autodesk was just taking shape when I started my CAD training career in San Jose in May of 1982 at Arrigoni Computer Graphics on the Arrigoni Touch ‘N Draw software.  David Arrigoni (PE) developed software that ran on Tektronix hardware, sans mouse; thumbwheels on the integrated keyboard/monitor.  The software, the hardware (including his ‘Touch Control Station’ where we pushed a button to launch a command), an HP7585 pen plotter and my warm body for 5 days of training we sold to architects for an obscene 100K.


Then PC-based CADPlan, from Personal CAD Systems in Los Gatos, CA, was early out of the gate, too, and my employer in 1984. And it was while with P-CAD, that I did my European CAD training gigs and the first of my additional continents.


Got a bootleg copy of AutoCAD in the late 80’s but couldn’t figure out how to Zoom Out and got frustrated with it and said to my lovely bride of now 36 years, "I'll never train on this".  Honestly, that came from my mouth.  And I remember exactly where I was in our home in San Jose when I uttered those words … but clearly I figured it out and eventually founded AutoCAD© Trainer Guy, LLC.  That name, however, resounded with the legal department at the mothership, so I’m now CAD Trainer Guy, LLC. Thankfully, it didn’t take much to cut the ‘Auto’ from the rubber stamp I had when I rebranded.


Fast forward 30+ years, and although not nearly as sweeping as The Lynn Allen, I’ve now trained some kind of CAD product on 6 continents, 11 countries, and 41 states.  Chevron needed training in Angola for their AutoCAD users at their refinery in West Africa, NAVFAC users came to the New Horizons Training Center in Guam for their AutoCAD training when I went down there, and a major furniture dealer in the Bay Area figured they might as well send me down to Manila to train AutoCAD to their team in the Philippines.  


Ah, and inmates at Folsom Prison sat in the front row of their mezzanine training room inside the prison walls while I trained ‘em on AutoCAD from the back row (really nice guys, actually, and very appreciative of the training), Southwest Airlines had me come in to help their AutoCAD LT users to document their analog cockpit instrumentation along the time they switched over to digital, and the facility planners at Facebook, Google, and 23 & Me were all very interested in what I could show ‘em on AutoCAD/AutoCAD LT, too.  [Although I was a bit traumatized when I sat down in the 23 & Me conference room, and the 4 Designers all walked in with Macs … but we muddled through and they actually had me back a couple years later.  Still on Macs.  🤷‍:male_sign:]



While working as the CAD Training Manager at CAD Solutions, Inc. in San Jose in 1990, I encountered Dorothy Kent’s AutoCAD Reference Guide and loved it.  Short command summary, Options, Tips, Warnings, next command.  It even had a pre-Lee Ambrosius AutoCAD Variables list in the back. 


That encounter also began my long running relationship providing AutoCAD content for New Rider’s Publishing, beginning with my first contact with Rusty Gestner and then local, Louisville native, Kurt Hampe.  Kurt’s the one who was in one of my training classes for an architect in Louisville around 1994 who got hold of me and said he was getting weary of writing and wanted to know if I would be interested.  Hook, line, & sinker; down it went. 


BookShelf.jpgMy first New Riders book was AutoCAD Release 13 for Beginners that I co-authored with Dennis Balagtas in 1995.  Since then, I either co-authored or did was Development Editor on several other titles.  The AutoCAD 14 Fundamentals book I co-authored with Howard Fulmer was translated into about a half dozen languages … including Serbian.  Seriously.


InstQualAward02.JPGA 5+ year stint as a trainer at the University of Louisville Authorized Training Center got me a few Instructional Quality Awards in 1997 & 2000.  Even met with Ms. Allen who said at least her kids paid attention to the short training video I sent her when submitting material for the UofL award.


In the late 90’s, Hugh Bathurst, who had been with Autodesk Australia, came to La Jolla, CA, and founded Awareness Learning, Inc. and eventually reached out to see if I would be interested in helping him present is 1-day productivity conference called ‘Mastering Today’s AutoCAD’.  He’d rent out a conference room at a large hotel in major metropolitan areas, send out mailers to local AutoCAD users, and we’d have up to 100 power users come in for a day of non-hands-on tips and tricks.  After a couple practice rounds team-teaching, it was my road show.  Looooots of stories from that; I’d do five cities in 2 weeks and I carted around my InFocus projectors in specially constructed Anvil cases.  Crazy schedule. One time it was Albuquerque, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, Anchorage.  It was a great gig, actually, and it went on for several years.


About 5 years into this century, Ray Eisenberg from Autodesk reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in writing a title for the Authorized AutoCAD Training Course [AOTC] called AutoCAD 2005: Transitioning from AutoCAD 2000 to AutoCAD 2005.  That was a bit more structured than the New Riders books and involved providing metric examples, which was fine, and I certainly learned a few things.  Then I did another in the series the following year, AutoCAD 2006: Transitioning from AutoCAD 2002 to AutoCAD 2006.


Somewhere around 2003 I did a shameless search on my name, and discovered that a University of Greenwich (UK) CAD professor had recommended one of the New Riders books I had worked on for his Landscape class.  In the course of our communications, he wondered if I would be interested in contributing to his new website,  We finally decided on four AutoCAD tips per month and I’d call it Michael’s Corner.  Thus began the 13-year run of my longest AutoCAD educational endeavor I had made to date.



After the first 7 years, I figured I’d compile ‘em into a single volume, The AutoCAD Workbench, published in 2010, then in 2013 I coagulated the first 10 years and published the 2nd Edition.  After 13 years of 4 AutoCAD tips per month, I was getting a bit weary, and in 2017 published The AutoCAD Workbench, Final Edition … some of which are still available and sitting under my pool table downstairs.  You can order them from my website.  Please.


Then there’s the smattering of Autodesk University contributions.  I think the first one I went to was in Chicago and I was an assistant at Sham Tickoo’s session on creating Linetypes; loved that session!  My first on-stage, Seminar Speaker presentation was in Orlando in 2005, then a few others in Las Vegas leading up to my 2013 AU Lab, Click My Ride: Customizing AutoCAD for How You Work, which got me the Hands-on Lab Award; that was pretty special.  And thanks to my lab assistants, Sam Lucido, and Rick Ellis and probably Curt Moreno. What a crew.


Today, I still do a fair amount of AutoCAD training, especially in the context of the training I present on CET Commercial Interiors, an amazing product from Configura [] which is used by my core customer base; contract furniture dealership Designers and corporate Facility planning Designers.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but believe it or not, that’s the short version of my AutoCAD history.


And all the people said, “Amen!”.  😎