UW News

July 22, 2004

Capital Projects gets a software bargain

Any office on campus using the drawing program AutoCAD will be able to get it and related software more cheaply, thanks to a purchase by the Capital Projects Office.

The office has obtained a software package called ACES (Autodesk Comprehensive Educational System) that contains — in addition to AutoCAD — Architectural Desktop, Mechanical Desktop, Building Systems, Inventor, Civil Series, Map Series and more (15 software titles altogether). The site license allows for all academic and business units, including those in Tacoma, Bothell, Friday Harbor and Harborview, to use any and all of the software included on any University-owned computer.

“Previously, anyone on campus who wanted to use this software had to purchase their own individual licenses,” said Alan Kruger, lead electrical engineer in the Capital Projects Office/Design Services. “We figure the total cost for all these licenses was between $100,000 and $200,000. We’re paying $27,500 for the comprehensive license.”

Kruger said his office will charge about $100 a year for each computer loaded with the software. The license allows for faculty and staff who use the software at work to put a copy on their home computers for non-commercial use. There is also a provision for students to purchase it separately at significant savings.

The new site license comes out of a group Kruger co-leads called the CAD Discussion Group, which was convened to talk about CAD standards. Standards, Kruger explained, make it possible for different people to share the CAD files of a particular building.

“When I first started working at the University, there was no CAD standard in my office, so when one of us made a change in drawings, everyone had to make the same change in his or her own copy,” Kruger said. “We got together and agreed on standards so that we could share the most up-to-date versions of building drawings. Then we thought, wouldn’t it be nice if the whole university used the same standard?”

When they took the idea to their director, Sharon Griffin, she said, “Yes, it would be nice. Why don’t you find out everyone on campus who uses CAD drawings for facilities?”

So Kruger began looking for campus CAD users. In the process, the idea of combining forces to purchase a site license came up. Work on the standards, however, goes on. Kruger said the group is finishing up its recommendation to managers and directors stating that a policy should be created and why. If the managers and directors agree on a policy, then work will begin on setting the technical specifications for a common standard.

Meanwhile, the Capital Projects Office expects the ACES software to arrive soon. Anyone interested in participating in the site license should contact Chris Coyle, manager of information services for capital projects, ccoyle@u.washington.edu.