mr-vasquezDonna North High School student German Andino aspires to be an architect and manage his own company someday. That may very well happen because of the success and hard work he has put into his advanced Architectural Design course.

Teacher Armando Vasquez said that for the first time, his entire class completed and passed the rigorous online AutoCAD exam, a software that teaches the basics of designing and developing blueprints for residential and commercial development. Vasquez said through this software, students gain the skills needed to become more marketable when it comes time for them to enter the workforce.

Vasquez said his advanced Architectural Design class consists of two years of preparation coursework. During the first year, students learn the AutoCAD’s commands and how to navigate around the software. The second year, students undergo numerous practice tests to get them ready for the exam. “It’s tedious sometimes as far as getting the kids motivated to actually study this but once they see what they’re accomplishing, they get excited,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said passing the AutoCAD exam is a big deal and opens doors for students. “These nine students are now nationally recognized as certified users,” Vasquez said. “The certificate they received confirms that the students have the skills necessary to apply for a job at an architectural or engineering firm anywhere in the U.S. They will know the basics on how to use the actual software where the employer doesn’t have to go back and train or teach any of these students. The employer can trust that they know what’s going on within the field.”

Vasquez said this training will help students significantly if they choose to pursue a college degree in the architectural or engineering field. “If they decide to go to college or a university, it will make it a lot easier for them because professors at universities don’t teach AutoCAD,” Vasquez said. “They just assign a project and they assume that the student already knows how to use the software so being certified can be extremely beneficial in college.”

The certificate can also benefit students who choose to join the workforce upon graduating from high school. “Students can work right out of high school with this certificate,” Vasquez said. “Really, they can get a job with or without a certificate but obviously with a certificate the student is more employable because they received the training. I’ve had students in the past where right out of high school, they decided to go on their own and designed residential floor plans.”

Andino is ecstatic about passing the AutoCAD exam. He had no idea what to expect. “I was really nervous when I was taking the test because I had heard stories about other people not passing on the first try but as soon as I got the passing score, I was relieved and excited,” Andino said.

The senior said right now he is taking dual enrollment at South Texas College and plans to get his associate degree in architectural design. Upon graduating, he plans to transfer to The University of Texas-San Antonio where he will continue to pursue the field of architecture. He said Vasquez’ class helped him realize his dream.

“At first when I was being recruited into the class, I was doing art,” Andino said “I didn’t think much of architecture because I like drawing and painting. But these past two years have taught me a lot. It’s been a great experience. It really helped me decide what I was going to do with my life.”

His teacher has no doubt Andino will be successful. After all he said, many students who have gone through his class have become successful. ‘I’ve had a lot of students who have become architects or engineers,” Vasquez said. “I’m very proud of them. Eli Alvarado was one of my first students. I was so impressed when I heard that he had been hired to be the project architect to construct Donna North High School a few years ago. Today, he owns his own firm.”