Posts in category ‘AUGI’

2018.10.31

Part Three: BiLT Europe 2018 Final Thoughts

It's really not easy summing up a conference for those who haven't attended. So, save me a bit of trouble next time and go <wink>. You will thank me later. It's one of the most rewarding experiences a professional in the building industry can have outside the office.

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On the second morning main stage plenary session, Sasha Crotty of Autodesk described how play can make us better at our jobs by doing something innovative. A good case for innovation, she describes, occurs when play is incorporated within the workplace. Play can come in many forms. Setting aside formal time to test out new hardware and software, finding unstructured time to experiment and also demonstrated how using video gaming strategy helped an American Football player score a touchdown in an unexpected way by practicing virtual scenarios in Madden NFL. Also borrowing an example from the sports industry, Sasha shared an interesting case study highlighting how UnderArmour developed a 3D printed shoe that supports both weight lifting and cross training, by combining simulation and data analysis of actual use. 

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Dieter Vermeulen of Autodesk followed up, showing where we are today, versus the past. Connection was termed the next logical step from earlier work paradigms focussed on documentation where we have drawings, and models as a direct expression of design ideas. He posits that "optimisation of designs and connection of teams must happen for us to be effective", and I agree with that statement wholly. One possible approach, as Dieter describes, is with Connected BIM, the shorthand describing the BIM 360 platform and associated tools as marking the next era in our industry. One case study presented was Gatwick Airport going fully BIM for deliverables, and using the cloud solution from Autodesk with an estimated savings of 20,000 hours of labour.

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Data driven BIM and how Insights are helping save lives. Using Dynamo to parse point clouds to create an existing conditions model, and suggest ways to make the buildings more disaster resistant in only three hours verses two weeks. Also shown was the much talked about Project Refinery, now in Alpha, a further development of using generative design and a genetic algorithm approach to achieving design optimisation in the cloud. 

During the question and answer segment, someone asked about what happened to Project Quantum. Vermeulen's answer was that the "underlying technology may be present in something soon", followed by the usual safe harbour statement. 

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The Weight of Data

No digital construction conference would be complete without a discussion the topic of blockchain and other future technology enablers. London based Mat Colmer did just that as the day two keynote speaker. Colmer, Specialist in Digital Transformation in the Built Environment for Digital Catapult, focussed on the problems in the industry, and dispelled some blockchain myths. Data has to live somewhere and downloading it from a single centralised source versus a distributed network is the basic premise for why it may be important to you and your company. 

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Distributed ledger technology, the way crypto currency works and fundamental to what blockcahain is, are purportedly secure, immutable and transparent. Mat tells us “the first two, are not necessarily true”. Human determination, also known as curious teenage hackers, could potentially disrupt things given enough time and energy drinks. What helps make the system stronger than the sum of its parts, is: consensus. Consensus is key. Trust is not necessary with all parties in the blockchain. 

There was visible discomfort around the room when Mat described how privacy is a thing of the past in the public realm. His example of how Heathrow tracks you and your luggage based on computer vision has been welcomed with open arms simply because we all want to move through to our destination with low friction. We have a history of trusting the unknown. Yet somehow, crypto-currency and the platform it's built upon has not gained wide adoption in our industry.

The Devil is in the Detail

Marzia Bolpagni a BIM Advisor at Mace gave an insightful presentation showcasing the Politecnico di Milano PhD candidate's thesis on ways of managing and controlling public works through innovative digital approaches. Bolpagni spoke about the practicalities of using a progressive approach to Level of Development (LOD). She is part of an open-source project creating an international BIM Dictionary, whose aim is to make clear the various BIM terms and how they are communicated across over more than seventeen languages. Planning and verifying LOD today is tedious work, and the software vendors could do more to support this common workflow so critical to successfully implementing a BIM Execution Plan. How can elements be checked against a spreadsheet? How do you know what you’re getting? 

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Marzia described a different approach that aligns with something I've been thinking about for the better part of the 20 months I've been working in the UK. We need a way to tie scope of work documents like Design Responsibility Matrix (DRM) to the MPDT (Master production Delivery Table) or as called in the USA, the Model Progression Specification (MPS). The whole point is to bridge the gap between design and production. It's critical to ensure modelled elements are fit for purpose. Knowing the downstream Use Cases will help to be more specific in identifying what is needed at design stages for handoff to another party or process. The history of LOD and influences around the globe was quite a mind bending exercise.

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I can't describe all the classes attended, and wish I'd had the ability to sometimes be in two or more sessions at once. I must say as it happens, some were more compelling than others. On a conceptual level the sessions on Machine Learning, and preparing models for Facility Management were fine. I just didn't come away with actionable data. Perhaps because these areas are relatively early days for AECO firms, we'll see more develop in this space over time. Generative design was a big winner at the event, with some compelling imagery and video showing it in action.

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Making the Dynamo API Exciting

Mark Thorley, of DesignTech.io, formerly of Grimshaw taught a great class about the API, and for those still unsure of coding, explained the concept of what an API is in the simplest terms I've seen. Think about how you interact with information, in the terms most everyone in attendance would get. An API is the difference between booking a flight from an airline’s website directly, versus using SkyScanner or Expedia which takes your information and interacts directly with several airlines by using their open-APIs to help you find the best options for your trip.

Mark blew my mind by importing the DynamoNode.dll into VisualStudio, where quite a number of possibilities open up. Mark showed the attendees how reading through a library of Dynamo scripts across a network drive could be searched, and a number of properties can be extracted. A good use case is to do some library management, view which graphs have errors in them when used, which nodes are used, and whether the graphs are meeting company standards - such as adding notes and descriptions to groups of nodes within the graphs. Collecting and adding meta-data allows for more intelligent searching, and usage tracking. Dynamo now has Extensions, with some sample documentation that provides some new functionality related to collecting data and creating some UI hacks.

What about Buildings?

Architecture sessions were less prevalent, but I caught a great one. Some built works case studies were shown in the session by Jack Stewart, an architect who leads the Digital Studio at Hawkins\Brown. The HereEast complex, a repurposing of the media buildings created for the London Olympics into maker spaces and places for creative professionals to showcase their studio work, was the firm's first foray into computational design tools. There, they created a frit pattern on the facade which required iteratively arranging 8 million dots, quickly deciding the computer was better to accomplish the tedious work rather than have a "Part 1 graduate model it manually while simultaneously trying to keep up with the lead designer changing their mind".

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As the project evolved into a design to fabrication exercise, the presenters describe their approach to construction as a technique of assembling a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. CNC fabricated parts helped build the first pod. They then asked themselves, "How do you get variety from a modular system". After some further explorations, they found using the WikiHouse system, adapted to run in Rhino / Grasshopper to help achieve their concept of evoking a kind of large-scale cabinet of curiosities. They approached the digital problem with the most simple of BIM tools, Excel. Two models with one brain, where a spreadsheet sits in the middle with the data, read by Grasshopper into Rhino for cutting, and Dynamo into Revit for documentation.

The fun doesn't stop here

The evening social events were fantastic, with a carnival one night and a gala dinner to finish off the event. At the carnival, there were fire juggling mimes, midway fair-style food, and live music in the large hall of the convention centre. The gala, as is often the case for BiLT and RTC previously, is held in a fancier venue. We all went back to our hotels to change, and a number of people came out in fancy dress to the ballroom of the Union hotel downtown for food, opera singers serenading us, and later more live rock and pop music and dancing.

Wesley Benn, founder of it all, starting with a user group pin Australia with eventually became known as RTC, the grandmaster of ceremonies, was mighty sharp in a white tuxedo. All in all, there were some fantastic conversations and great people. The conclusion of the gala, it was noted by Sylvia Taurer, one of the organising committee members, that this year over 17 percent of the attendees were women and they had the highest number of women speakers of any past events. The industry is getting more diverse, if a bit slowly.

Of course, I took a bit more time to explore the city after the event and found some fantastic architecture, food and just chilled out for a while. I can't wait to visit again. Final tally of beverages, according to organisers: Over 1200 espressos, litres and litres of coffee and tea were served. As for water and beverages in the 'other' category, we'll just say what happens in Ljubljana, stays in Ljubljana. Looking forward to the next BiLT Europe event in 2019, as we head North beyond the wall, to the beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland! Until then, Lang may yer lum reek!

This is the final article in my series on the BiLT Europe 2018 event. You can read more at: Part One: About BiLT Europe 2018 and Part Two: BiLT Europe 2018 First Look.

For more information about this conference and others by the RTC Events organisation around the world, visit: rtcevents.com.  If you are on social media, look for the hashtag #BILTeur or follow @BiLTEvent on Twitter.


About Sean David Burke

A member of AUGI since 1997, Sean has been at the forefront of BIM for most of his career. His focus on advancing the adoption of digital tools as a Senior Associate at NBBJ and previously with Autodesk has always been to inspire and instruct others around the world in order to make building better.

2018.05.27

BiLT ANZ 2018 Finale

There is more to BIM than technology and BiLT ANZ 2018 reflected an increasing focus on the human side of BIM and related AEC professions.

One prominent sign of this was a panel discussion, “Gender diversity in AEC: Challenging our industry sponsored by Central Innovation”, which featured on the Friday plenary mainstage. Moderated (with contributions) by Justine Clark (Parlour); Elizabeth Harper (GHD), Glenda Caldwell (QUT) & Todd Bartley (AECOM) challenged the majority male (~85%) attendees to address diversity in their own environment. Aspects discussed included the benefits of diversity, considering messaging in advertising, approaches to diversity in the recruitment process, training to address conscious/unconscious bias, and flexible working arrangements.

A great resource (for local attendees) is “Marion’s List”: a public register of women in Australian architecture and the built environment disciplines to approach for input, mentoring and speaking. It’s a proactive response to help address gender bias in industry forums/events and a fine example to consider matching (if not already established) in your region.

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Saturday, the final day of BiLT ANZ 2018, skipped the previous days morning plenary and launched straight into the 75-minute streamed sessions. For me it started with Phil Lazarus’ session “Advance your digital agenda” which was also all about people. @bimtroublemaker was in great form sharing how to talk BIM with your management. It was an introduction to the psychology of management and how to frame your BIM strategy in a way they will embrace. A compilation of inspired career advice rounded out a great session which finished with the line: “Never curse that "They don't understand BIM", that keeps us employed”.

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A Guided Tour of Cutting Edge Creek with Some BIM Geeks” was a fast-paced multi-presenter tour of both technology and techniques led by Luke Johnson with Joe Banks, Dominic Martens, Adam Sheather & (via video conference from the US) Aaron Maller contributing. It ranged from choosing and implementing hardware (personal and network), approaches to evaluating/auditing models, tips for data wrangling (including a mention of Safe’s FME and the line “a Revit model is not a database”) and collaboration platforms. It ended with an overview of the diverse range of hardware they use every day. Aaron’s is missing from the photo below as needed an entire second slide…

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Luke Johnson’s “The Worst BIM Projects - A Case Study of How BIM Can Go Wrong, and How to Avoid the Pain” was a frank, courageous, look at a project where BIM didn’t work. It was revealing that the failure was more the human, contractual and process aspects than a tale of technology not working. Luke addressed what happened, how to avoid or detect similar signs of looming problems in your own projects, and how to handle them if they happen. While it is great to hear of success stories it is also valuable to learn from other’s lessons, pain, hard as that can be to share.

My final session of the day was “Connect the docs: BIM 360”: Carl Storms’ impressive explanation of the mix of applications and services which make up Autodesk BIM 360. To compress the complex and twisted history of Autodesk’s cloud offer, the capabilities, duplications and limitations of the ‘Classic” and newly released “Next Generation” BIM 360 into 75 minutes is quite a feat. Carl did this admirably in a slick presentation which covered all aspects.

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The Closing Keynote and Wrap Up was sponsored by ClearEdge and Kelly Cone hosted the Vision 20/20 Competition. It was a fast paced (20 slides, of max 20 seconds each) and fun look into the future of AEC/BIM based on the topic: “The Dangers of Technology”. Performed live and judged by the audience (voting with the BiLT app) in real time. Finalists Carl Storms and Nathan Love did a brilliant job netting prizes including a ticket to any BiLT 2019 event (Nathan) and gigantic Millennium Falcon Lego set (Carl).

After thanking all the attendees for coming, the Organisers, Sponsors, Speakers, Technicians, and QUT Volunteer Students who helped deliver it BiLT ANZ Chairman Chris Needham summarised the biggest BiLT event to date:

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This quote, from Ashraf’s opening keynote, Chris highlighted in his wrap up resonated. BiLT is about people, connecting, learning, sharing and BiLT ANZ 2018 delivered.

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With the conference formally wrapped up the BiLT finale was the “Special Event brought to you by CSI & BILT ANZ — an elegant evening with lots of food, cocktails, music, dancing and entertainment”. The venue was spectacular, Brisbane City Hall, and host Ashraf Habibullah certainly delivered! The entertainment was his band, from the US, and with food & drink galore it was a spectacular ending to the conference.

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BiLT ANZ 2018 delivered an impressive variety of technology, techniques and tuition but most importantly a brilliant venue for networking and learning. There are regional BiLT events around the world, next up is BiLT North America in St Louis, and you won’t regret attending if you get the opportunity.

You can follow BiLT activity on Twitter @BiLTevent

 

2018.05.24

BiLT ANZ 2018 tees off!

The BiLT ANZ 2018 opening plenary began with sponsor sessions - from Autodesk & Newforma - then Omar Awny introduced the remarkable Ashraf Habibullah whose keynote lit up the room with his personality, presentation and (literally) with his illuminated foil jacket.

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He's a Structural Engineer, President and CEO of Computers and Structures, Inc (products including ETABS) but didn't talk about that other than to illustrate his point. The theme was how to make a difference as a person and a professional by bringing delight to your life, those around you, and your work. In addition to charming the audience, aided by gifting several iPads, Ashraf will be hosting (even bringing his band from the US) what is promised to be a spectacular closing evening event on Saturday.

With the plenary over the sessions which form the bulk of the event kicked off. There are multiple 75-minute streamed sessions ranging from presentations, panels, forums and hands on labs. I can only give an impression of this as there is simply no way for one person to see them all!

The range of content on offer represents the incredible growth of the RTC Events portfolio. What started fourteen years ago as a series of Revit Technology Roadshows, one of which initiated the Auckland Revit User Group I'm involved with, has become a distributed virtually connected international workforce staging nine events per annum around the world.

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My day one sessions included Paul Wintour looking at the world of computational design and the various approaches to modelling geometry and analysing objects/spatial relationships. It was high level but offered a good conceptual guide to the benefits and limitations of different approaches and algorithms.

From the world of computational theory, it was into the very real world of interiors. I was attracted to Ceilidh Higgins session on interior design for Revit as it relates to the workflows we face in my day job, retail design. I picked up some useful tips and approaches to 'adapting' Revit to do a job it isn't really optimised for and techniques for interior projects where you may not get a building model. As retail tenant you often just get what you’re given with little control on the model deliverable. Tips include only modelling what you need, using CAD links for detail where the model isn't available, and simple families in groups as an alternative to complex 'try to do it all super families'.

This, as with all sessions, offers a point of view and stimulates some interesting conversation in the room about alternative approaches. It's the incidental conversations, random meetings and follow-up discussions (which overflow into the hallways and exhibit space) which are the difference between attending an event and seeing the same presentation online.

Industry standards are the subject of much debate and I attended a session by the Australasian BIM Advisory Board on their work to create industry wide standards. The concern I have is the world seems to have a lot of organisations setting standards, but the software has crude tools for managing data where client requirements and standards can vary.

The evening welcome event was held in the exhibit hall giving a chance to meet sponsors, exhibitors and fellow attendees. For those who desired this carried on at the nearby Baedeker Bar after-party. It is in an old brick mill building with a neat speakeasy atmosphere, cobbled floor and secret spinning bookcase door!

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The Friday morning Plenary recognised the support of HP/Nvidia hardware, Central Innovation (whose offer includes hardware, ArchiCAD and Solibri platforms) and Autodesk. Ian Molloy, of Autodesk, also talked about connected BIM and the ESRI/Autodesk partnership announced at Autodesk University 2017. I was surprised HP/Nvidia didn't have more of a presence in the exhibit hall given the brilliant range of AR/VR hardware they offer but it was covered by reseller partners.

My first session of the day looked at the reality of BIM from the Quantity Surveyors point of view. Keeley Pomeroy had a practical overview of the benefits, pitfalls and costs of BIM at different deliverable stages and some achievable approaches to maximise the benefits, minimise the pain.

The next session was lifecycle data management from the owner’s point of view. Looking after an iconic UN World Heritage Site with a 250-300+ year potential lifespan is as lifecycle as it gets, and the Sydney Opera House was designed long before BIM. Chris Linning & Steve Lianos session covered the journey migrating decades of legacy into a digital model-based facilities management solution. It was a revealing look at the complexity of managing a unique public building from both an operational and refurbishment viewpoint.

Next it was Kevin Thickett’s very realistic view of the maze of potential for misunderstanding that Level of Development, Detail, Completion, Complexity has become. He offered a view that cut through the complexity with "Kev's Gospel of the Good LOD". By the way, the D represents development and forget about the rest.

David Spehar and Robert Manna had a session on using data to fix what BIM broke. They began with a short (one slide) history of BIM and posed the question;
“Are we at the point in the BIM party where everyone is suffering from a hangover? "
They offered a solution which took a proactive approach to analysing and reporting BIM progress, and potential problem tracking, to avoid the catastrophic broken BIM which can result from ignoring issues.

I later saw another session which took the opposite approach, ignoring issues which don't impact the outcome, but that is the benefit of seeing different views in the community. Nobody has all the answers; other’s solutions may not fit your needs but can spark the idea or process which does.

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The day finished with an evening function at a nearby golf course. We had the run of the event space, terrace bar, awesome BBQ dinner, a driving range and mini-putt course for the BIM geeks to display their golf skills. It was a nice end to the second day. Tomorrow, is a full schedule of sessions and the much-anticipated evening extravaganza in conclusion.

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I’ll be following up with a summary post, but you can also follow BiLT ANZ activity on social media; look for the #BILTANZ tag and follow @BiLTevent on Twitter.

BiLT ANZ 2018 Event Website: www.rtcevents.com/bilt/anz18/

2017.10.04

Nominations for AUGI Board of Directors now open!

Nominations are now open for upcoming 2017 AUGI Board of Directors elections. Those elected will serve a three year term from 2018 through 2020.

If you are considering running for the Board, keep in mind that the Board meets often, including face-to- face meetings at Autodesk University. The Board meets via teleconferences every month as well, to keep everyone on the same page. Directors should can anticipate about 10-15 hours per month (maybe more, depending on the level of your involvement).

Being a Director requires some work, effort and carries responsibility, but it offers many rewards as well. So how do I apply, you may ask?  All the details can be found in the AUGI Nominations page at AUGI.com.

Nominations must be submitted to: board.elections@AUGI.com no later than Midnight CST October 18, 2017.

2016.08.11

AUGI Website Scheduled Maintenance

AUGI.com website to be down for maintenance beginning Friday, August 12th, at 10:00pm GMT. The downtime is expected to last several hours but should be restored by Saturday morning. We appreciate your patience during this period.

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