Thinking about the certs stuff. Wondering how I'd go about systematically teaching someone such a vague and large area as "building."
Areas like vehicles, buildings, and avatar attachments should remain a marketing and portfolio issue. There's huge stylistic issues with judging those - camera control, proportions, historical accuracy and realism, etc. The current ideas of breakdown include topics like architecture, vehicles, weapons, furniture. I think this is a huge mistake - we should focus on building skills and knowledge, not topics. There's also questions of bias here.
Anyway, here's my first attempt at a list.
Proof that a person can use the edit controls in basic ways. Create, select, move, rotate, copy, delete. Hollow, cut, resize, dimple. Convert one prim type into another. Resize using the edit window, resize by grabbing the points. Choosing colors and textures, aligning textures, transparent/opaque, fullbright. Understanding shiny, bumpmapped, and how alpha affects them. Grid modes.
Linking and unlinking. Manipulating linked groups of prims (individually and as a group) - moving, texturing, coloring, resizing. Deleting a prim in a linkset. Knows that a stable linkset can't be a mix of phantom and real, etc. Understanding root vs child prims, and how that affects position, rotation, etc. Number and distance issues with linking. The existance of script tools that let you work around those limitations. The vehicle prim limit.
Knowledge of flexi limitations (only some shapes can be flexi, always phantom)
Knowledge of lighting limitations( 6 sources, no shadows ).
Alpha flicker and techniques to prevent it. Positioning, "blacksiding", etc.
How to make a prim into an attachment. Setting it to an attachment point. Using the edit window's grid mode for attachments. Making a basic one-prim HUD.
Making "mini" prims with different techniques - cutting, dimpling, hollowing with a transparent texture on the outside.
Oversized prims. How to do the ones that are technique (like flattening a 10M box to create a 15M plane) and best practices with the huge or mega prims that were introduced thru the Havoc hack (phantom is best, don't make them physical, bounding box and hollowing issues, beware of parcel boundaries).
Prim torture shapes.
Ways to minimize your prim count.
Texturing techniques that influence building. Shadowing, lighting, details, alpha games... texture maps. Textures and lag. Size, tiling, alpha channel issues, formats for upload. Common uses of alpha textures.
Balancing and minimizing lag. Textures, shapes, levels of detail, etc...
Working with curves and organic shapes.
Basic script usage, more of a "drop it in and let it run" sort of thing. Animating textures, basic sound use, setting sit targets and assembling pose balls, removing hoverscript and particles, basic doors...