I recently got a paper copy of the as-built plan for my institution (a botanical garden), which I assume was produced using AutoCAD. I've got a bunch of graduate students coming for a week in a couple of months to produce a GIS representation of our site in ArcView, and rather than having them go out with a GPS to take coordinates of everything/hunt down topographic data etc, I'd like to just be able to convert the AutoCAD data into shapefiles.
Is that a reasonable plan of action? Is an AutoCAD map composed of separate layers that I get get from the surveyor, and then can be converted to shapefiles? (i.e the buildings are one layer, utilities another, boardwalks a third, etc). And, if so, since the map is to scale, would you just figure out the lat/long of one point in each "layer", decide on a projection, and every other point/feature would somehow get assigned correct geospatial data?
Also, any recommendations on converters from DWG -> SHP? Free-as-in-beer-and-as-in-I-don't-have-any-grant-money-for-this strongly preferred.