Design Technician Evan Caldwell now is a CDT-certified specialist. The designation means he has completed advanced training and testing in Construction Documents Technology. The comprehensive program encompasses topics such as writing, interpreting, enforcing, and managing construction documents. It’s one more set of skills in Evan’s toolbox to give TSP clients the highest value and enable them to move forward with confidence in their projects.

The CDT curriculum, designed and administered by the Construction Specifications Institute, takes learners on a full tour through a project’s life cycle. “I’m involved with a much narrower part of that timeline right now,” said Evan, whose models and drawings help clients envision new spaces and inform their decision-making.

“What I do takes place during a highly critical point in the project’s lifespan, but it’s still a relatively short amount of time,” he said. “I predominantly fill in a bit during pre-design, from schematic design to construction documents, and then sometimes in construction administration. This training gave me the long view. It was enlightening to think about a project in the context of all the other things that have to happen along the way. It’s really given me a better understanding of my role within the project.”

Evan, a Brookings native who initially pursued engineering at South Dakota State University, took a break from higher ed to pinpoint his true interests. He discovered that his love of drawing and strong spatial-reasoning skills merged in architectural drafting. Evan resumed his formal learning at Southeast Tech, earning an associate of applied science degree in architectural engineering technology. He put that learning to use for a structural firm before joining TSP in September 2019.

Senior Architect Rex Hambrock, Evan’s supervisor, recommended the CDT certification during Evan’s Career Development Plan process last year. “I think I’d mentioned something like LEED certification initially, and he sort of redirected me to this first,” Evan said.

The online course was self-guided, with materials posted online. Evan studied for about five weeks and “really crammed” during the last two. Testing took place at the Prometric facility in Sioux Falls, where Evan successfully completed the computerized multiple-choice exam.

“It puts me on a track to potentially continue certifying in other areas with CSI,” Evan said. “If I wanted to get into specifications writing, the CDT is the first branch of that tree.” The nonprofit professional association requires CDT-certified individuals to maintain that initial endorsement before enrolling in the Certified Construction Specifier course for specifications writing.

In addition to covering the full project structure and the ins-and-outs of bidding, the CDT training comprised relationships among design firms, owners, and contractors—including various delivery methods. “My testing group also had engineers, architectural graduates, and senior architects,” Evan said. “It’s really inclusive, with material on construction documents and record drawings but also information on different methods of structuring a project team, different formats for spec writing, and responsibilities of everyone involved with every phase of a project.”

Evan believes the training is particularly useful for drafters and other he whose degree programs didn’t cover those aspects. “It does give me a broader view of the whole project lifespan,” Evan said. “That helps me consider if I want to cross-train in other areas, which would make me more valuable to TSP. With this experience, I have a bit better idea of how everything fits together and what’s considered along the way.”