Senior Product Support Specialist
Who am I? Well, my name is Jason Hickey. Some of you might remember me from civil3d.com where I wrote about all things civil for a few years. I’ve been a mainstay on the Autodesk discussion groups for more years than I care to imagine. I’ve been seen walking the halls of AU and AUGI CAD Camps, and noticed in more than a few classrooms there. I’ve used Land Desktop and Civil 3D in a production setting. I’ve seen my name in Barnes and Noble (on a book, even!). I’ve helped users for years.
My career goes all the way back to high school. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I thought I wanted to be a Landscape Architect (a thought that amuses me now.) I went to college at Auburn University to become a textile engineer (textiles are huge in my area) but wasn’t focused enough to finish. As a temporary way to make money, I worked for the Alabama Department of Transportation as a construction inspector. In the winter when nothing was really being built, our crew had to survey for upcoming projects. It was here that I learned that I really liked surveying – it was a combination of things that I liked, such as being outside, using computers, and geometry (nobody said I was normal…) I started at the bottom, holding the prism pole in one hand and a machete in the other and tried to learn everything I could about the job. Like most people in that job, I moved up to running the total station (the ULTIMATE job, or so I thought at the time.) From there, the natural progression was as a crew chief. After spending some time in that position, I realized something – I only like being outside in the spring and fall! So I moved inside and started using AutoCAD to draw the jobs that I had been working on. I remember it very well – I had used AutoCAD R11 and R12 and Generic CADD in college, and this company had the latest and greatest version – R13 with some add-on called Softdesk. Hey – this wasn’t what I used in college! This had stuff that allowed me to do my job easier! It was during that period that I learned how to look for support – I would often call my reseller tech support line with a question and then call them back with the answer before they could get back to me. I utilized discussion groups, email, and the internet to find answers to my questions…I remember at this time some unknown guy named Jeff Bezos was launching this website called Amazon and my favorite search engine was AltaVista. As drafters often do, I moved on to working with a company that did civil engineering as well, because there were only so many creative ways to draw a piece of property – I wanted to do some of this design stuff that I saw on plans. So I moved on and moved up, and eventually landed in a company where I was “that guy” in the office that people thought knew everything about CAD. You know, the one that everyone went to with CAD questions? If you don’t have one of those people in your office, you probably are that person (especially if you’re reading this.) That company was a full service AEC company (before I really knew what AEC stood for) and I became not only a designer for them, but their de facto CAD Manager and network administrator. I was happily working 80+ hour weeks keeping computers working for about 50 users, until I saw this ad in the paper from an Autodesk reseller advertising for people who knew a lot about CAD and liked to teach others. Whoa!! You mean I can teach other people how to use this stuff? I sent in my resume and waited….and waited….and waited. And then I went in for an interview – and was promptly turned down. No problem, I have a decent job. A few months later, I received a call from this reseller that I had interviewed with, and they wanted to talk numbers (the person they hired instead of me had left.) So we did, and that brought me much closer to Autodesk – I was helping sell software for them now!
My work with an Autodesk reseller had me running all over the southeastern US. I performed pre-sales demos (and LOVED doing that.) I taught users how to use Civil 3D. I created templates for users. I fielded tech support questions from users…on all products (something that I despised.) I loved life, and racked up so many Hilton, Hertz, and Delta points that my dogs didn’t even recognize me when I came home.
In the middle of doing all of this, I had been doing some contract work for a very great friend of mine, James Wedding. He had joined Engineered Efficiency just after I joined the reseller game, and fed me work from time to time. Then one day, he offered for me to help him with a rather large project – writing a book. I agreed, thinking about all the writing that I had done on Civil3d.com (another great project that he was kind enough to include me on.) I enjoyed that, so why not? After working for two editors and a publisher (who James handled for us – we never felt the wrath of the publisher, but we did feel the wrath of James quite a bit) I realized why I shouldn’t have taken that job…it was WORK! One day the work started being so much that I had to make a decision – keep working for one company or go to work with James. So I joined EE as a consultant in November of 2007, shortly after they became an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) for Autodesk.While there, I worked with some of the most recognizable names in the Civil 3D industry – James, Mark Scacco, Dana Probert, Nick Zeeben, Eric Chappell, and Joshua Modglin. I loved what I was doing, which included creating content for classes, teaching users, implementing Civil 3D, presenting at Autodesk University, and offering technical support.
Back in late September/early October of last year, I was presented with an opportunity to have my lifelong dream fulfilled. What have I always wanted more than anything else? An email address that ends with @autodesk.com. Strangely enough, they don’t give those out like Google does, and you had to work for the company to get one. On October 13, I joined Autodesk as a Civil Product Support Specialist for the AEC Americas. I’m finally living my dream, and loving every minute of it!
Like my good friend Justin did, I’ll include a little personal information so this doesn’t seem like I’m all about work and nothing else. I am married to the love of my life, who is a stay-at-home mom catering to the most beautiful 9 year old girl in the world. We live in central Alabama (in the southeastern US) along with our three dogs, Tippy, Precious, and Rosie. I love relaxing on one of the many nearby lakes with a fishing rod in one hand (notice I didn’t say I love fishing…just being there is good enough for me) and am a rabid fan of college football (the US kind, not soccer.) My favorite team (of course) are the Auburn Tigers, which would explain why almost everything in my office is painted burnt orange and navy blue. I also enjoy tinkering with almost any form of electronics, especially computers, reading, and video gaming. I am Chief of our local volunteer fire department, president of a private ambulance company (and a volunteer EMT with them as well), and a master scuba diver specializing in rescue and recovery. Yes, that kind of recovery. I didn’t say it was all fun.
Most of all, I’d like to welcome you all to Being Civil – if you have any special requests of content that you’d like to see, I’d love to know – drop me a line at any time!