A Freshman at MiTek University

As an instructor at several community colleges, people think I’m fairly smart.  Boy, do I have them fooled!  What I do have is experience helping people through the process of learning.  There are several stages of understanding all of us will go through when we start learning anything new.  The following quote is a gem that came from either my Dad or my grandfather, years upon years ago, when talking about the progression college students go through:

Freshmen: Don’t know what don’t they know

Sophomores: Know what they don’t know

Juniors: Don’t know what they know

Seniors: Know what they know

Did you catch all that?  I didn’t either the first time.  However, I am beginning to relive each stage in exquisite detail now that I am going through professional development with Gould Design, Inc. to become a truss designer.  The professor is now a freshman at MiTek University.

Freshmen: Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

As someone with no true background in construction, it has been humbling to start working in a completely new field.  There are so many things that are unknown to me.  Of course, every profession has its own vocabulary and there are a multitude of new terms to memorize and understand.  Then there are all of the aspects of how houses are put together – let alone how trusses are designed.  One of the GDI team told me several times that, “The truss industry is fun.  Each project is like putting together a puzzle that no one has really seen before.”  As a freshman, I have only seen a few pieces of the puzzle – I don’t even know how many pieces there are!

  • What do you mean floors have a container?
  • How many different types of hipped roofs are there?
  • Load pathways, what are those?

Just like a large puzzle, it can be overwhelming.  So you start in one spot
and work your way out from there.  MiTek University breaks things down into nice, small steps and provides lots of opportunity for practice.

MiTek University has aided not only in learning the software but in seeing a systematic approach to designing a building.  Perhaps the most helpful lesson for a rookie like myself has been to see a house layout completed from the ground up:

  • Check your dimensions.
  • Check your dimensions again.
  • Add basement walls, then beams, then posts


  • Add floor container followed by openings and joists/trusses.


  • Main floor exterior walls, interior walls, and always (always!) checking your dimensions.


  • Ceiling planes, whether simple or fancy, come before roof planes.


  • Trusses, trusses, and (sometimes) attic trusses.


There are a lot more pieces of the puzzle which are still “coming soon”; I am still a “freshman” – I don’t know what I don’t know.  But this fact is slowly changing, and that is exciting.

GDI President Christopher Gould shared a quote with us recently: “You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”

I may be about as new as possible to the truss industry, but it is already abundantly clear that no one ever really knows it all in this line of work.  There are always challenges and ways to improve.  That is why GDI emphasizes continuous Professional Development.  Chances are most people reading this blog are already “juniors” or “seniors” or even “graduates”, but there is always more to learn.  Read some articles or sign up for a workshop.  At the very least you can always go to MiTek University to learn a new trick in the software by going through one of the “New Features” modules.  Go ahead and see what world opens up for you!

Design Trainee – Gould Design, Inc.