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What do entry level/new hires/millenials not know?

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CluelessMillenial

It's common to hear someone say that entry level designers don't know anything, are clueless, etc. What are some common (and specific) examples of this?

An example: you often hear a version of the same comment; that young designers "don't know how to put a set of drawings together." What exactly does that mean? Are you tasking a new hire with producing sets from scratch, and they don't know where to begin? Or are they missing details along the way; omitting demo plans or dimensioning to the wrong lines? 

How can young designers entering the workforce avoid looking and being clueless?

 
Jul 16, 18 11:39 am

2 Featured Comments

All 28 Comments

How can young designers entering the workforce avoid looking and being clueless?

Don't enter the workforce. </thread>

Jul 16, 18 12:17 pm
RickB-Astoria

How's that going to work? How's rent going to get paid?

randomised

By living with the parents ;)

That one's gotta sting a little

Rusty!

Start studying for registration exams. AREs are literally that gap between the arch. graduate and an experienced architect. All of these exams make a lot more sense if you are gaining experience at the same time, so it will be a slow process no matter what. 

Jul 16, 18 12:23 pm
chigurh

AREs do nothing to prepare somebody for professional practice. Enter 24 year old licensed architects that only know how to take a multiple choice exam...

Rusty!

This is an extremely jaded overview of professional licensing. I don't know what to tell you. 24 year old registered architects are very rare, and should not be considered experienced architects.

chigurh

You wanna hear jaded, architectural professional licensing is a joke...9 out of 10 professionals are complete ninnies that have no business designing buildings. It is no wonder this profession is seen as a necessary evil by most and a complete shit show by those in the (A)EC trades that actually know what they are doing.

Rusty!

Yup that's pretty jaded. If you think you are surrounded by incompetent idiots. Luckily I don't seem to live in this same world of yours. It's a depressing place.

Rusty is correct in that there is some useful knowledge you need to learn to pass the ARE exams, at least that was the case for ARE 4.0, I can not imagine it is an improvement to not have any drawings in the exam but to pass the new exam you will likely learn some useful things. The Exam is not the end all to be all for determining success as an architect but it is a hurdle that many people never get beyond and that may be unfair but it is the world we work in right now.

heeroyui

Overall, take the ARE to learn the knowledge but don't expect it to make you into a great architect. Don't support NCARB or AIA. They are the corrupt money sucking corporations that's killing the architecture industry today .

tintt

Architecture is a knowledge heavy endeavor. School leads you to think you don't need to know stuff, just to have a process. But you really do need to know a bunch of stuff and the stuff you don't know you have to be willing to recognize it first of all, and then you have to know how to find the info you need out of massive swarms of information, some of which is outdated, wrong, misleading, confusing. Starting out, you lack fluency (speed+accuracy) because you lack knowledge. It's simple though, you have a magic pen: draw what you want constructed, how they are going to construct it. 

Jul 16, 18 12:24 pm

Tintt is right. In architecture, experience is nearly everything. Architects don't really start doing anything exceptional until they have ten years under their belts, and they don't really do their best work until they are fifty. A day doesn't go by that I don't learn something new, and am reminded About how much more I need to learn What do new architects need to know? They need to know that they don't know anything.

Architecture school is really just a construct designed to weed out the uncommitted, and to deliver the most fit to begin their real education, which is working in offices.

thisisnotmyname

There is a lot that higher education in the USA could easily do to provide us with better prepared graduates.

tintt

They don't want to provide better prepared graduates.

How big is a 2 by 4?

Jul 16, 18 12:34 pm
JLC-1

8?

joseffischer

pressure treated or not?

randomised

What type of wood?

tintt

Metric or imperial?

joseffischer

SYP of course, it's Georgia grown!

Non Sequitur

Is a metric inch different than an imperial one? Asking for a friend

tintt

southern hemisphere or northern?

Non Sequitur

middle(ish) in the right quadrant but only during a full moon.

Above or below sea level? Barometric pressure in inches of mercury to the nearest hundredth?

tintt

Weekend or weekday?

archanonymous

African or European?

thisisnotmyname

The new hires need to understand that they are entering a period of on the job training and they need to actively be paying attention to, and learning from what is going on around them. Ideally, they should also be doing some self-directed study as well.

School only teaches schematic design, and not very well (i.e. no life safety, energy use, or cost considerations).

Jul 16, 18 12:39 pm
Non Sequitur

I spent about 90min this morning teaching base of wall flashing details to our new hire... this quickly became a lecture on mullion profiles, membrane lapping, structural steel alignment and drafting convention.  All these should be things fresh grads should at least be aware of instead of just assuming they can copy details from google or past projects. 

know at least a little something about everything.



Jul 16, 18 12:54 pm
thisisnotmyname

How did they take it? We've had a quite a few recent grads that were horrified to learn that details are something architects have to actually develop, work on, and think about.

Non Sequitur

Took it very well and I was quick to convince him/her that they should not be embarrassed to ask questions. I explained further that all details need to be considered together and worked on simultaneously (ie. sheathing alignment across an assembly) and that it is important for things to look intentional as opposed to: "Oh shit, we forgot there was a column here so now we have this award jog in our handrail." To which I showed real life examples of just that.

thisisnotmyname

Excellent!

Bench

New podcast proposal

tintt

90 min is a long time to sit with a new hire. The model I'm familiar with is throw them in the deep end and see if they swim.

tintt

I would to hear a podcast addressing the academia/practice gap.

Non Sequitur

I just noticed I typed "Award" instead of "Awkward". The day they start giving out awards for improper drawing coordination is the day I give up coffee.

thatsthat

I had a class in school which was a CA guy from a local firm showing us photos of stuff that got messed up in construction because the drawings/specs were inadequate and the contractor took that as a cue to do what they wanted. "Only draw and specify the parts of your building you care about" is what he would tell us. Very educational stuff. There needs to be more of this in school IMO.

Non Sequitur

^ I had the same type of class but it was run by one of the main authors of this well known site: https://buildingscience.com/

The final exam was a 90min live interview on building science and detailing.

joseffischer

That's awesome non, I go that site all the time.

Non Sequitur

^ yep... trial by fire. My details coming out of grad school were of shop drawing quality because of this course.

Wood Guy

Non, how much to you think they will retain from a 90-minute lecture? I ask honestly, because I have trained a few recent grads, and have someone now who is surprisingly underprepared considering she has all of her IDP hours. I get excited about teaching what I know, but I'm not a natural teacher, so I think they get easily overwhelmed.

Non Sequitur

Well... since I spent another hour this afternoon on a tangential subject (this time it's aluminum panel corners!)... I'd say about 30% was retained but I'm not too worried about it since it's a learning process and it is our office's style (for better or worse) to toss small CD sets to newbies to test their comfort level and independence. I have a ton of reference material "randomly" scattered around my desk so it's easy for me to pull examples of past/current projects to help the lesson. With that said, I've only managed to do one door/hardware schedule today so my billable hours are shot.


Non Sequitur

But I get the overwhelming part. I tend to apologize every few minutes / details reminding them that we don't expect them to memorize everything. The goal is to show them how things work, so they can figure out the rest or other similar situations... not fill their heads up with gospel.

Wood Guy

30% sounds about right to me. Then there are some details that they just never learn.

Non Sequitur

WoodGuy, part of that 30% included CAD commands too... small victory? I'll take it.

auninja91

NS you sound like someone who is pretty understanding and patient with the teaching process you take with the new hires...I like that. good mentoring skills

Non Sequitur

^ I don't see colleagues as competition and it's in everyone's best interest that all team members get an equal opp to learn. We're a small (under 20 person) office so new hires are not that common but if they "get it" early on, chances are they get to run projects solo (within reason) earlier than their peers. I spent another hour today going over ACM and curtainwall mock-up models to demonstrate how the thin lines in CAD get attached to the other thin lines.

The Newer folks I have worked with in the past tend to not know how to research and verify things. This can be a problem when the newer folks take a lot of time from senior people to ask questions, simple questions that might be found with a quick search on the internet or review of the building codes. The billable rate for a junior employee is about 90-105 per hour seniors can be at 300 and above sometimes new folks get upset when their inquiries are unanswered or met with "did you try to find the answer before asking me".  This also manifest itself in an unhealthy lack of skepticism where a newer person might see something in the code that allows the design intent to go forward as drawn but fail to read the whole section of the code and look up the exemptions and the local amendments if any.

I think researching and having a healthy curiosity pared with reasonable skepticism are needed skills and traits.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Jul 16, 18 1:18 pm
Non Sequitur

Does posting a question to archinect and waiting for the answer count as research? Asking for a friend.

It should be a part but not the only research you do.

My initial snark aside, I don't think there is much that young designers entering the workforce can do to not look clueless.* The key is to understand that you are clueless and find an employer that is willing to help teach you what you need to learn ... then ask lots of questions and learn from your stupid mistakes. 

Rusty's suggestion is a good one as long as you look at the ARE as a tool to help you learn more, and not simply as a hurdle on your pathway to becoming the world's next starchitect.

Above all, be prepared to research, study, ask, learn, make mistakes, try again, look stupid, be called stupid, etc. etc. Don't take it too personally, and be better tomorrow than you were today.

---

*Of course there are rare exceptions based on particular people, their background, training, previous work experience, etc. However, for the vast majority of recent graduates, there really isn't any way to quickly overcome the lack of education they just finished without changing the educational model.

Jul 16, 18 1:30 pm
thatsthat

Are you tasking a new hire with producing sets from scratch, and they don't know where to begin? Or are they missing details along the way; omitting demo plans or dimensioning to the wrong lines?

In my office, we don't give full production to newbies.  It's more about an attention to detail and taking care with their drawings.  We see misspellings in notes (that were fully written out in the redlines given; not abbreviations), wrong keynotes selected so that the note no longer makes sense for the detail, and whole dimension strings/details/notes on redlines never picked up.  They just seem to have been 'forgotten' even though we ask everyone to highlight the completed redlines as they go along.  When we ask for a sheet set to be printed, there are sheets missing out of the set because they didn't check the print settings or check the print after to make sure all the sheets were there and in the right order.  Drawings with the wrong title -   a north interior elevation of a room actually called East.  It's simple stuff to do.  Just check your work before handing it in to be checked!  It's not even not knowing about building or architecture; it's basic attention to detail.  

We've implemented a policy that all PAs will collect all redlines given and check that all of them have been picked up before showing a revised set to a PM.  We've never had to do that before.

Jul 16, 18 3:42 pm
joseffischer

Seems like a wise policy. I do that for my superiors just because I don't want to look stupid. Rarely is the intern in the room when I'm showing "my" drawings... though I'd like to change that. I've gotten redlines back highlighted and the item wasn't actually fixed. It only took a couple weeks however, and the interns now highlight things yellow that were fixed and green if they think they fixed them but didn't understand something. I don't REALLY look at the newly printed sheet until we've discussed all the green parts. Seems to work pretty well.

archanonymous

A bit different that PA's report to PM's, no? Most PM's I've worked with don't know a pice if brake metal from an extrusion, but they own the contract and schedule stuff...

thatsthat

joseffischer, we are experimenting with something similar with the green highlighting. Green is for 'needs more information' ie: the intern has questions or needs some kind of code/field info that needs to be collected from the owner.

thatsthat

archanonymous, I guess it's maybe different at every office. At my office, the PM is basically in charge of everything - contract, client demands, drawing coordination (in office and consultants), and design decisions - and the PA helps them carry out the project both in design and construction. The PA coordinates the drawing set, makes sure its complete, makes sure everything is on track per deadlines, and largely deals with the interns and draftsmen.

spiketwig

my office has the same PA/PM relationship thatsthat describes... not sure what the point of a PM who didn't know wtf we are building would be? how does that even work?

shellarchitect

not very well, but they have supposedly have "people skills"

thatsthat

spike, agreed. I mean the way the position is seen at my firm is that the PA position is basically a stepping stone to becoming a PM at some point and running your own jobs with the help of a team. You are assigned a PM and see firsthand how they make decisions and interact with clients with the added bonus of being able to freely ask questions so that you can slowly move into that role over time. In most cases, interns are more typically more fluid and work where assistance is needed under a variety of PAs until they get a little more experience. I'm not sure how you're expected to learn how to do this job if you don't have a PM-type person to learn from as you go.

whistler

I don't hire anyone fresh out of school as they don't have any suitable experience,  but once they even have 6 months in an office environment they have a better aptitude toward the job and and some level of skill that can be trained.  Ideally we have a small renovation of SF home that we can through them onto and work through the entire process ( design development through BP ). A small house is not complicated but the process of design, assembling the package and dealing with clients and contractors is consistent, in my mind once they understand that process and fall on their face several times doing it is a great humbling experience for them and a great way to learn... thrown into the deep end with a life preserver in the form of a more senior member of the team.

Jul 16, 18 3:47 pm
spiketwig

If you don't hire the new grads, then who should? That 6 months of office experience doesn't materialize out of thin air.

jrhews

This is something that always comes up from a lot of students like myself. The old "jobs want a 20 year old with 20 years experience." 

Obviously always exaggerated, but clearly displayed by example above.

We can't get experience if people don't let us get experience.  

whistler

We are a small office and I can't have someone hand holding a newbie at the expense of progress on other projects. So as a new hire it's important to understand that Architecture is a "business" and needs to make money and deliver services still. It's not school anymore. I would expect at a basic level new people to understand that they should find ways to assist and be productive in any capacity within any office. I just can't afford to be the first employer to shown them how to calculate the rise and run on a stair. Thus I am a big fan of Co-Op programs.

spiketwig

Whistler, I definitely get it, and the impact on a small office is especially acute. We love our co-op interns and hire a lot of them for this exact reason. I suppose the take away for students is *do as many internships as you possibly can* and *the internships are way more important than your studio projects*. I made the mistake of quitting an internship in 2008 a week before Lehman went under and guess who didn't have a job for 2 years after graduation..

a recommendation for new hires:  don't land in an office and expect to be making key design contributions.  This will come with time and demonstrated ability.  Learn to realize that designing smaller components of buildings is "design" as well.  So step up to design that bathroom or laundry room or stairwell, and may it the best-conceived component you can.  That's design.  You'll get noticed and it will lead to other opportunities.  

Jul 16, 18 4:15 pm
thatsthat

I'd like to extend this to picking out fixtures, hardware, and appliances. Have a reason to pick that dryer beyond it being the first one that popped up on google. Think about how things will work together in a space and how someone will actually use it. Well-conceived ideas get you noticed.

Featured Comment

The worst thing a young architect can do?  Pretend to know stuff when you don't. 

Jul 16, 18 5:25 pm
archi_dude

Crazy idea I know but what if a firm offered some sort of training program either quick up front or after hours that then came with a raise after completion so they didn’t feel as though they could get a 10% raise by bailing. That way you’d have a few well trained employees who felt valued by their firm doing what an army of “throw  them in the deep end and let our QA officer run around with his head cut off extinguishing fires” can accomplish. That firm would also be able to attract some top well rounded talent by advertising themselves as a true professional development firm with an actual professional development program. But yeah that’s crazy. 

Jul 16, 18 9:09 pm
spiketwig

I work for a large firm and we are doing exactly that. We've realized we actually need to like, train people. Crazy, I know. (let me know if anyone wants to come work for us, we're hiring).

joseffischer

My first firm was like this, well known as a prof. development firm. Even had an incorporated young professionals wing that went after their own projects. It was a good time. The "problem" was that there still wasn't room for growth, so after 3 years most people went to get another job and many of the other firms in town were lead by people trained by this firm. I put "problem" in quotes because it still worked wonderfully for the employees and the firm, but some argued that we trained our competition.

archi_dude

I feel as that problem is then fixed by fixing what the requirements are for your new hires. Hire a few graduates for the growth and potential future managers, the rest are drafters since that’s what their job and needs of the firm are dictating. The mentality of all drafting technicians need to be a creative graduate makes no sense, that’s where you’ll spend a great deal of time making fake titles and catering to demands because you put an art student into a vocational tech role with not much future progression.

archinine
Are fresh graduates still called millennials? This age group seems endless. I know it’s a fun buzzword in the media but at some point doesn’t the next generation group get its own name. Most millennials have graduated years ago and are pushing well into their 30s.
Jul 16, 18 10:12 pm
thatsthat

I was going to point this out! As far as I understand the newest grads would be the last of the millennials. I’m technically an older end millennial but I’m still overseeing younger millennials? It’s getting confusing. What’s the new generation called and when can we start blaming stuff on them?! (Joking.)

The Post-Truth

tduds

Generations are artificial constructs anyway.

.

Jul 16, 18 11:52 pm
senjohnblutarsky

I expect a graduate to come out of school with problem solving abilities.  I can get a CAD monkey anywhere.  The graduate needs to be able to take a basic instruction, and know where to look, or how, to find answers.  I shouldn't have to repeatedly tell them to look in the code for the same piece of information.  They need to be someone who can be told once where to find something, and retain that for future use.  I have a person in my office I've repeatedly told where to find things.  This person is either playing dumb, or just is dumb, because they keep coming back and asking me. 

I'm not one of these people who think students should come out of school cranking out CD's.  School is when your method of thinking gets broken.  We all go into school with strange, preconceived ideas about what architecture is (every CAD monkey I get seems to retain those ideas.  They weren't broken in school). Once we get past that really bad design mindset, we start actually thinking about the problem at hand and developing solutions for it.  School is for training the designer to develop  solutions.  I do expect there to be some knowledge of building construction and basic structure types.  I expect a person to know the limits of types of construction.  And I expect them to be willing to admit they don't know what's going on, and to be open to instruction. 


Otherwise, I expect doughnuts on Thursdays. 

Jul 17, 18 8:00 am
Non Sequitur

Dibs on the jelly-filled one

joseffischer

"I can get a CAD monkey anywhere" I don't think that's possible anymore. Very few people left in the professional world without a degree but with CAD and revit training

senjohnblutarsky

Don't know where you live, but the high school-level vocational schools, and community colleges around here are churning them out.

tintt

I'm interested to hear how the programs where candidates become licensed along with their diplomas are faring. Does anyone know? What do they leave out in order to focus on practicalities and do those students suffer or excel because of it? 

Jul 17, 18 9:50 am

Let's flip this over and be positive. What do entry level/new hires/millenials know?

They're really good at texting.


Jul 17, 18 10:17 am
thatsthat

And organizing office happy hours.

Non Sequitur

They're really good at complaining. Oh wait, positive thoughts.

They're really good at stretching their self-reported software skill levels.


tintt

Telling their manager that their priorities are all wrong when the manager wants the fire exit stair detailed. Intern shows em how it's done by designing a beautiful garden instead.

They're really good at telling you what you're doing wrong.

curtkram

tintt, that's what principals do.

Dangermouse

they have a better understanding of where their knowledge ends and ignorance begins, whereas a PM or firm owner will charge headlong into the night, consequences be damned.

archanonymous

Checking social media during office hours. Clutching their phones. Ignoring code because it's not "design". Colored pencils. Cat memes. Working til midnight but getting nothing done.

randomised

"What do entry level/new hires/millenials not know?"

They do not yet know how to fail.

Jul 17, 18 10:50 am
spiketwig

They don't know what they don't know so they don't know when to ask questions. Which means you get to spend a lot of time trying to guess what they don't know and intervene before they spend hours on something useless or wrong. 

Jul 17, 18 11:29 am
mtdew

New employees need to put their ego aside and follow directions and learn from the office. It is extremely frustrating to spend time explaining and giving directions with the newb saying yes to everything and then doing whatever they think is correct. If there is doubt, ask questions. 

Jul 17, 18 3:44 pm
Jeremy

I know this might be shocking to some, but (most) architecture schools don't prepare you to actually work in an office. I am not saying they are useless, as all of what you learn there will come to bear on things eventually, but that is not what they teach you unless you are in a trade program. Hopefully they taught you critical thinking, fast idea iteration, a strong work ethic, self-criticism and correction in addition to architecture specific design,  production skills and history/theory. Maybe even some technical info. Those are all necessary, but are not literally the skills you need to do even entry level work. So - what is a really good idea is to do internships during summers WHILE IN UNDERGRAD. That way you get your first low paying internship (never work for free, not even then) when your overhead costs are low and before you have too much ego to think you deserve to be designing all the museums and stuff the office has. Your first jobs (well, as you will found out, all of them) are not only for money but to learn. So you go there and you know what you know - which might be some rendering and model making skills or whatever, and you learn other skills. Learn everything. Learn to draft (or rather, Revit I would guess), learn about reading the code, learn about submitting for permits, learn about materials, details, specs, dealing with clients. Medium size offices with a structured intern program could be a bonus.  Treat all the learning about the office stuff as summer school you get paid to do. Then try to take that and level up next summer to doing a bit more. If you start the summer after freshman year, you have three summers before you graduate to learn enough work skills to be a decent level employee by the time you have your degree, and as a bonus you are already in a firm at that point. Just make sure they pay you more each time or politely move on to somewhere else. 

Jul 17, 18 5:39 pm
Formerlyunknown

Common sense in math.  Not advanced math.  Not the discussion of whether calculus is necessary and/or useful in the profession.  Just the ability to look at an answer to a basic, day-to-day arithmetic problem and see by common sense whether the answer is anywhere near in the reasonable range.

For example, if the new architecture grad has been tasked with doing some very basic in-house estimates based on per square foot costs, and he multiplies when he should have divided - which is a common mistake that many of us make now and then, and no big deal - I wish he could assess his answer and immediately realize that it's off by a factor of 100. Common sense.  I want him to notice that right away, and recalculate.  I don't want to have to point it out to him, and then listen to a whole bunch of excuses or apologies about how he was tired or distracted or anything.  Arithmetic mistakes aren't anything to be ashamed of - but not assessing your results and noticing obvious mistakes... well that's another story.

Another example:  you use the copier to reduce something to 75%.  After sketching on it you decide you need to scale the resulting drawing back up to its original size.  Do you know what percent you have to set the copier to?  If you make a misassumption about this, will you notice right away that you did it wrong, and figure out how to do it right?  Some entry level people I've encountered just seem to lack the ability to think through the results of things they've done and see what's wrong and figure out how to fix it.

Jul 17, 18 10:10 pm
thisisnotmyname

Or just knowing how to operate a printer or copier. I get a lot of "I've never owned or used a printer before..." and "why do you guys want to print things out? we can just look at everything on our screens..."

eastcoast

Agreed, I think it would have been helpful to learn that basic math all though school without the assistance of a calculator. Sometimes on tests I found myself beginning to type in simple basic problems even though I already knew the answer in my head. Well I'll just check it this one time...

Xenakis

All of my Chinese, coworkers can do math their heads - Americans have to resort to calculator

Jul 19, 18 2:22 pm
RickB-Astoria

True. They learn math from age 2. When they can walk and talk, school begins and it is 12 HOURS a DAY..... 7 DAYS A WEEK or something a par to that level. Well... the point is SCHOOL is SCHOOL not babysitting and they spend more time a day & a week to learning than in the U.S. School IS the life of children in China. Learning is ALL you do for the most part.However, I do math in my head. Now, doing a LOT of them continuously with a bunch of other non-math tasks, then perhaps it gets tiring. You have to unload things from your mind in order to be a human number cruncher.

JLC-1

But you only got to be an architect? What a waste of a genius

RickB-Astoria

He over inflated the tire. :-P

shellarchitect

I have to use my fingers to count the number of times this year that I've had to use any math at work!



Jul 19, 18 8:41 pm
mightyaa

Wow.. I do it all the time. Just little things mostly like you have 4" from top of structure to door threshold at the balconey. So, if I use 'this' assembly I'll have 'x' inches versus 'that' assembly, etc.  Ooh.. and it's all adding fractions, something most calculators hate.

randomised

That's the same level of math as counting using your fingers.

tintt

I math constantly. What are you doing that you don't do any math?

Non Sequitur

I mathed a few days ago when I calculated masonry coursing, sill height, mullion centre-lines on the spot for our junior staff who was working out some elevations. Mathed!

tintt

and the junior staff didn't say "Thanks, but I like it my way"?

Non Sequitur

No, not this time. I think they were just mesmerized by my mathed abilities.

Xenakis

The american education systems breeds laziness and mediocrity, and people wonder why their jobs are being taken away by people from Asia and Europe.

Jul 22, 18 5:53 pm
heeroyui

dont blame the graduates, blame the schools.

Jul 23, 18 12:14 am
RickB-Astoria

You don't attend school. You attend child care centers (babysitters).

Xenakis

increasingly, Chinese, Indians and outsourcing is providing the necessary skillsets that Americans lack - BTW, voting Trump wont work - you can't put artificial restrictions on H1-B type programs to try and save american jobs - education is the only way - either you know it or you don't 

Jul 23, 18 1:14 pm

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