MiTek University: Are You Using It? Why or Why Not?

What is MiTek University? It is probably the best kept secret to efficiency this decade. Now, it isn’t really a “secret”, but I am referring to it that way because it seems so many manufacturers “keep it quiet” and don’t use it enough. MiTek has created these wonderful web modules where a designer can go and tutor on this amazingly powerful software. Be it to learn from new, or refresh their memories on things they have learned in the past. “MiTek U” is a portal with tons of tutorials and most of those modules you draw in Sapphire as you go along.

Now don’t get me wrong there are quite a few sessions that seem very trivial and redundant. But I will tell you this, I have been in the design world for almost 8 years and I get a few tips and tricks out of them that I had forgotten all about. It’s kind of like working out at the gym. When you don’t exercise certain muscles for a while, they become “flabby” and lose strength. Design skills are no different.

I feel in the world of design, whether it be trusses, EWP, panels, or floor joists; speed and accuracy reign supreme. The old adage, “slow and steady wins the race” is kind of misleading in our industry. Tell that to the guys who race cars for a living. Nothing beats a well-oiled, perfectly timed, performance boosted machine. In this instance, you, the designer are the machine. Anything that can make you faster and more efficient shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Just like the rest of you, when I first started doing some of the modules on MiTek U I thought to myself, “this has got to be the most boring thing ever, I already know all of this stuff.” During my last performance review, the company president insisted on paying me to take these courses, to help me become a better designer. He requires everyone on the team to train constantly. I felt it was a silly request, kind of like asking a college student to learn the ABC’s.

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After I spent a few hours on the website, let me tell you, I was quite humbled. I am that guy who originally said that there is no way I could get anything out of this. Guess what? I was wrong. In reality, I may have known 99% of the content, but I couldn’t remember 30% of it. In that 30% I have picked up on things that will not only make me a better designer, but make me faster as well.

There were hot keys that I had forgotten about, and others I was not even aware of. Things like:

  • How to cap walls lighting fast to the side you want every time
  • The use of “child” planes
  • Dropping chords in profile
  • Master Variants
  • Multi Family tool
  • And numerous other courses and videos on just about anything you can think of

Additionally, there are quite a lot of different module types that you will find on MiTek U:

  • Wall Panels
  • Floor trusses
  • Roof Trusses
  • Sapphire Layout
  • Engineering

What’s even better is, they offer all these modules in every version of Sapphire. So whether you use 7.35, 7.42 or even the latest and greatest 7.5 Sapphire, they have it. There are even modules for the releases that keep you up to date and knowledgeable about what has changed in the newer versions.

While it didn’t seem like a colossal amount of new information that I got from doing the modules, it was enough for me to feel that it will make me a better designer. Plus it’s just a great way to refresh what you already know. Over time one tends to forget things, especially things that aren’t used every so often. I don’t claim to know everything, but I tend to think I know quite a little bit about the power that Sapphire has and if I can come away with helpful tips and tricks, I believe anyone can.

I am the type of guy that when I design, I don’t want to be bothered by anything but that design. I don’t think I ever understood the concept of Professional Development until now. Thank you MiTek for proactively preparing the tools I need to perform better in your software.

Zach Failing – Design Professional

Gould Design Inc.