American Idol contender talks about his trials with importing spreadsheets into MicroStation.

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CLEARWATER, FL, USA — This month’s user spotlight comes from the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. We’d like to introduce you to MicroStation user (and aspiring performer) Paul Villaluz.

Engineer, singer and actor Paul Villaluz.

MicroStation Today: Please tell us a bit about your background in the field.
Paul: I am an engineer in the design team for a soundwall installation project in Nevada. [Editorial note: A soundwall is a wall built between highways and residential areas, to minimize the noise emanating from the highway.] My prime responsibility is to ensure that our plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) adhere to Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) standards. NDOT requires its projects to be designed and delivered solely in MicroStation. I have had three years of experience with MicroStation during the course of four major NDOT projects. I graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. I am registered in Nevada (2003) and California (2001) and I am planning to graduate with my Master of Science in Civil Engineering from UNLV in May 2005.

MST: What are your experiences with Microsoft Office Importer?
Paul: While I was with another firm, Microsoft Office Importer was a lifesaver during the design of three phases of a major freeway-widening project in Las Vegas. Our CAD leader and I were faced with preparing .DGN files that contained many lines of text within specific columns. One such file pertained to concrete surfacing quantities. Per NDOT requirements, we had to provide the tonnage of each type of concrete for every typical section. Mathematically, this is a straightforward procedure. However, time constraints complicated the process. Changes to the overall roadway design would sometimes be done the night before submittal. Since the same tonnage numbers appeared in multiple places within the plan set, it would have been suicidal to resort to the traditional process of correcting every sheet with the text editing features of MicroStation. Normally, these sheets are the last to be produced and the pressure to meet the deadline is really tangible.

Microsoft Office Importer permitted me to make the changes to the calculations only once in the Excel spreadsheet. Our CAD leader would then import the spreadsheet information into MicroStation and produce the sheets. This process also helped us during the production of the overall project quantity lists.

It easily cut our total production time per sheet by half! We did not have to worry about the most time-consuming task of formatting the column and line spacing in the DGN file. Microsoft Office Importer imported all the formatting (like column width, line spacing, font size and style). All we had to do was ensure that our source file adhered to NDOT standards. Any future changes made in Excel would be automatically updated in MicroStation via the source link.

Using Microsoft Office Importer not only saved time, but it also gave us peace of mind. Microsoft Office Importer also reduced the possibility of us making mistakes due to haste or fatigue. No longer did we have to risk an incorrect mark-up by chasing the changes throughout the set. We had complete confidence that all the design files were automatically updated.

If Microsoft Office Importer were not around back then, I would have seriously considered leaving engineering. The resulting tedium and inconvenience from not having the program around would have frustrated me. I shudder to think what our workload would have been without it.

MST: I am looking over your list of extracurricular activities and I must say I am impressed. Tell me more.
Paul: I started singing in choirs in 1993 at UNLV. I sang seven seasons with the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society and one season with the Las Vegas Master Singers. I also sang three concerts with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Theatrically, I have been in twelve local productions. My favorite play was “Twilight of the Golds”. I did it in 2003. Our production was critically panned; but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I have been featured in Comedy Central’s “Viva Variety” and on a commercial for the Sahara Hotel. I won $750 on the TV show “Win Ben Stein’s Money”. During that show, Ben said I was the goofiest contestant in the history of the show and that I should leave engineering for Hollywood.

MST: You even tried out for American Idol?
Paul: I tried out for the 2005 season of American Idol. I got cut in the first round, so I didn’t have the opportunity to make it on camera.

MST: When did you last “break the rules”?
Paul: I wore blue socks with black shoes today. Somebody get me the whole milk, I feel wild!

MST: Thanks Paul. Good luck with your masters degree, your musical career and with engineering.
Paul: Thanks for the opportunity to endorse Microsoft Office Importer.

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