37 episodes

The AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast (AECTECH) provides information about technology in the AEC industry. Nick Heim, PE, a field, sales, and VDC engineer hosts the podcast.



The show features experts discussing different technologies and how and when to use them, to help AEC professionals and their firms save time and money.

AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast Anthony Fasano, PE & Nick Heim, PE

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

The AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast (AECTECH) provides information about technology in the AEC industry. Nick Heim, PE, a field, sales, and VDC engineer hosts the podcast.



The show features experts discussing different technologies and how and when to use them, to help AEC professionals and their firms save time and money.

    AECT 037: How Generative Design Is Transforming Water and Power Infrastructure

    AECT 037: How Generative Design Is Transforming Water and Power Infrastructure

    In this episode, I talk with Adam Tank about the concept of generative design and its application in critical infrastructure, particularly in the field of water and power. Adam also shares his passion for mentoring at-risk youth and philanthropy and the importance of giving back to the community.



    ***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Adam:



    How is generative design technology applied in critical infrastructure, specifically within the water and power sectors, and what is the connection between generative design and artificial intelligence?

    Who are the ideal users for the increasingly popular generative design tools, and what advantages do these tools offer that may not be immediately apparent?

    Will engineers be replaced by AI, and how can we leverage AI to explore new opportunities beyond just enhancing existing processes?

    What was your experience securing a $20 million funding round with Autodesk's support, and what advice can you offer to entrepreneurs seeking investment for their innovative ventures?

    How has technology evolved in AEC, and what differences did you observe between working in a Fortune 500 company versus a startup company?

    Can you discuss how generative design impacts sustainability and efficiency in critical infrastructure projects and its alignment with future industry trends?

    How does your professional work intersect with your philanthropic endeavors, and what motivates you to contribute to charitable causes?

    What final advice do you have for aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs aiming to make a meaningful impact in their communities and careers?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How Generative Design Is Transforming Water and Power Infrastructure:





    Generative design is when computers create designs without humans doing much. In projects like wastewater treatment plants, users give a bit of info, press a button, and the computer does the design work, with AI helping optimize building arrangements. The key is making sure this process is based on real math and engineering, especially for critical infrastructure. Unlike fun AI uses, here the goal is reliability and safety, ensuring that structures affecting lots of people are built on solid expertise.

    In critical infrastructure, tools like generative design are crucial during the early conceptual phase. Contrary to the belief that they replace engineers, these tools empower experienced professionals to efficiently explore and document innovative ideas, contributing to real-world advancements in projects.

    Investors in projects like parking garages often fear new tech risks. Yet, generative solutions and AI reduce risks by offering innovative options for improved long-term performance. Embracing these tools strategically de-risks both capital and operations, providing a broader perspective on potential innovations.

    Before creating a product, approach potential customers to gauge interest in the startup idea. This helps identify sales challenges and understand customer needs. Securing commitments like a Letter of Intent (LOI) before seeking capital strengthens the startup's position by de-risking. Investors prioritize proof of product market fit and customer willingness to pay.

    In AEC, the focus is shifting from individual projects to understanding broader impacts before construction, driven by technology. Engineers are embracing innovative workflows with the rise of cloud-based and collaborative tools, along with the concept of digital twins. This shift, evident in the last five years, contrasts sharply with practices a decade ago.

    Infrastructure worldwide is evolving with digital and physical tools making a big impact. For instance,

    • 37 min
    AECT 036: Exploring Cutting-Edge Innovation in Engineering

    AECT 036: Exploring Cutting-Edge Innovation in Engineering

    In this episode, I talk with John Guilfoyle, Chief of Technology and Innovation at Stanley Consultants, about his career journey and the establishment of Stanley's innovation program. He explains how the program operates, involving various stakeholders and addressing internal and external challenges. John also highlights the role of AI in the program and shares advice for engineers looking to drive innovation in engineering.



    ***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask John:



    Why did Stanley establish the innovation program, and how does it align with the company's broader goals?

    Could you guide us through the operations of the innovation program and highlight the specific problems it aims to address?

    How does Stanley promote collaboration in its innovation program, giving credit to junior members and involving others?

    How does Stanley measure the success of its innovation program?

    Do you have concrete data supporting whether this was a success, needs further improvement, or any other conclusive insights?

    How does AI integrate into Stanley's innovation program, and are there any specific AI projects or initiatives you'd like to highlight?

    What major challenges have you encountered in managing the program, and what insights have you gained from overcoming them?

    What advice would you offer to engineers aiming to lead innovation in their respective fields?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Exploring Cutting-Edge Innovation in Engineering:





    Stanley, with 900-1,000 employees, is adapting to economic changes by ditching direct competition with bigger firms. Led by the CEO, they're all about disruption and collaboration, pooling the best ideas across projects. The key is their innovation program, evident in a solid three-year deal for a tech platform. They're committed to a comprehensive, cradle-to-grave approach across various sectors.

    Stanley is all about innovation in engineering, aiming to improve internal processes, staff satisfaction, and project efficiency. They're tackling challenges from small tweaks to global issues like public health. Their tiered approach involves internal collaboration through challenges and external co-creation with partners. At the top level, open innovation engages a vast network of experts for groundbreaking solutions. It's a comprehensive strategy to drive innovation across the board.

    Stanley is breaking down hierarchies in engineering by promoting diverse voices through their Innovate @ Stanley program. With dedicated sponsors, they turn ideas into action, avoiding duplication and aligning with business goals. They extend innovation beyond internal staff, involving retirees and external partners for collaborative problem-solving. It's a powerful approach, uniting diverse perspectives within and beyond the organization.

    In its two-year run, Stanley's innovation program prioritizes impactful metrics. Internally, they measure efficiency gains, like the finance team saving a thousand hours annually. Externally, the focus is on project efficiency, utilizing innovations like AI to reduce task hours. Introducing new services is directly tied to revenue, demonstrating financial success. The metrics approach is tailored to specific concerns and objectives within the company.

    Stanley openly acknowledges challenges in their innovation program, with some initiatives providing clear results, while measuring engagement improvement, especially with the young professional group, proving more complex. Despite not having perfect metrics for every aspect, they are dedicated to continuous improvement, aiming for measurable success where feasible.

    In the third year of their innovation program,

    • 43 min
    AECT 035: AI Strategies for AEC Marketing & Sales to Gain a Competitive Edge

    AECT 035: AI Strategies for AEC Marketing & Sales to Gain a Competitive Edge

    In this episode, I talk with Frank Lazaro, an accomplished inventor, author, co-founder, and chief marketing officer at Sobo, about how AI is shaping AEC marketing & sales, practical steps for implementation, recommendations, and the future of AI in this sector.

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Frank:



    Can you provide more information on how AI is currently influencing marketing and sales in AEC firms?

    How are companies currently implementing AI for product delivery, especially in areas like image recognition, crack detection, and addressing infrastructure defects?

    For AEC firms who understand the potential of AI, what advice do you have to help them use it in their operations?

    How can firms effectively utilize AI to specifically enhance their marketing and sales operations?

    What are your thoughts on possible upcoming advancements in AI?

    With AI companions now common in almost every software for enhanced efficiency, what do you foresee happening in the next one to five years in this rapidly evolving landscape?

    Considering that plans are integral to AEC, how can AI be employed to interpret plans, perform quantity take-offs, and address specific questions, given the relatively niche focus compared to more mainstream AI applications?

    Apart from privacy concerns, what other challenges could AEC firms encounter in adopting AI, and how can they navigate these effectively?

    Does the principle of relying on trust while simultaneously ensuring thorough verification and backchecking remain consistent?

    What advice would you offer an innovation leader to get ready for the constant advancements of AI in this ever-changing landscape?

    What do clients expect when a service provider mentions using AI in their proposal, specifically in terms of faster timelines or influence from recent AI news?

    Do you have any final advice for AEC firms aiming to implement AI not only in marketing and sales but throughout various aspects of their business?

    Why are relationships crucial in firms, especially for connecting with the right people and staying updated on trends, even in discussions about AI and automation?

    How does the non-linear growth of AI make it difficult for people to comprehend and absorb the extensive information associated with its rapid expansion?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About AI Strategies for AEC Marketing & Sales to Gain a Competitive Edge:





    AEC firms are starting to feel the effects of AI in their marketing. Right now, it's mainly making things easier in tasks like creating content. As time goes on, AI will likely get involved in the software and tools these firms use, and eventually, it'll play a role in how projects are delivered. For now, it's mostly helping with the basics of marketing.

    To smoothly integrate AI into an organization, start by creating a clear AI policy led by an innovative leader. Define what's allowed and not allowed in AI usage upfront to avoid confusion when tools like Microsoft's co-pilot are introduced. Acting proactively ensures a strategic approach, preventing the organization from playing catch-up with widespread AI use.

    To smoothly integrate AI in AEC firms, first, identify an innovation leader; then set a clear and open AI policy; consider hiring external help if needed; and prioritize training your team to effectively use AI, maximizing its benefits.

    AI can transform your marketing and sales game. Social media ensures consistent posts by generating and scheduling a month's content in a day. This not only boosts your relevance but also establishes you as a thought leader. Plus, AI streamlines proposal responses, repurposing existing content quickly, saving time, and making your marketing efforts more efficient.

    • 33 min
    AECT 034: LMS Implementation in Construction: A Roadmap to Improved Productivity & Retention

    AECT 034: LMS Implementation in Construction: A Roadmap to Improved Productivity & Retention

    In this episode, I talk with Manja Horner, founder and CEO at Boost Learning Design & Business Development, discuss some great LMS implementation strategies, the distinctions between LMS and HRIS, and the remarkable advantages of digital learning in fostering employee retention within the construction industry.



    ***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Manja:



    What is the full form of the acronym LMS?

    Do you work with clients of different company sizes?

    Is the implementation sweet spot for the system around 30 to 50 employees, or would you suggest it for smaller firms or different stages of business growth?

    Can an LMS help in the construction industry where learning often occurs on the job, different from traditional engineering or trade school education?

    Why is digitizing knowledge better than writing it on paper and filing it away, and what are the specific advantages of choosing digitization?

    How does an LMS implementation enhance employee retention in construction or AEC businesses?

    What challenges or obstacles might businesses or business owners face when attempting to implement an LMS?

    Are there specific features or functionalities that you are seeking in an LMS tailored for your clients in construction, engineering, or architecture?

    How does your expertise add value by guiding potential clients through their needs and helping them choose the best product, as opposed to them navigating this space without assistance?

    Based on your observations and anticipated trends, what do you believe the future holds for LMS in the construction industry?

    What advice or best practices would you offer construction business owners considering the adoption of an LMS to upskill their workforce?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About LMS Implementation in Construction: 





    The LMS, short for learning management system, plays a key role in education technology. It's the go-to place for organizing training, assessments, and certifications, offering features like reporting and authoring tools. What's crucial is its integration with the HRIS, ensuring a smooth employee journey from onboarding throughout their career. This collaboration between the LMS and HRIS enhances the overall employee experience by managing workforce data and qualifications seamlessly.

    Manja prefers teaming up with companies in the 30- to 50-employee range, stressing the significance of investing in infrastructure for growth. This approach ensures a more strategic and organized implementation, avoiding the chaotic rush associated with delayed initiatives.

    The ideal range for implementing the system is around 30 to 50 employees. Going smaller might strain resources, making it challenging to manage learning paths. Larger companies face challenges implementing them retroactively, as seen with a current client expanding from 150 to 300 staff. Consistency in onboarding is crucial for smooth growth and avoiding high turnover.

    An LMS is vital for preserving and passing on practical knowledge, especially in fields like heritage restoration, where experience matters most. With seasoned practitioners holding a wealth of expertise, the LMS acts as a tool to smoothly transfer these skills to younger individuals interested in the craft. This approach, widely used in other industries, is an untapped opportunity in construction, offering a way to quickly share essential skills and knowledge.

    Digitizing knowledge is essential for three main reasons: accessibility, searchability, and prompt access. Unlike paper documents, digital information is readily available to everyone, and modern technology allows for easy searchability. In today's age,

    • 29 min
    AECT 033: How AI and ML Are Revolutionizing Engineering Design and Construction

    AECT 033: How AI and ML Are Revolutionizing Engineering Design and Construction

    In this episode, I talk with Robert K. Otani, P.E., LEED AP, chief technology officer of Thornton-Tomasetti and founder of CORE studio, about the role of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) in engineering. We discuss the evolution of these fields through technology and examine impactful case studies of AI and ML in engineering design and construction.



    ***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Robert:



    How does your engineering and project management experience at Thornton Thomas contribute to shaping the firm's technology strategy?

    What triggered your shift toward working on AI and ML in the last eight years?

    Are you training a computer to mimic human intelligence, which typically takes five to 10 years to develop?

    Can you share more case studies or projects where AI and ML have been successfully implemented?

    Instead of tedious tasks like counting cracks, how does automation free up designers to focus on creative repair details, opening new avenues and letting engineers excel at what they do best?

    What thoughts do you have on using AI and ML applications to make engineering projects more efficient and effective?

    What challenges are associated with integrating AI and ML into engineering projects?

    How do you see AI and ML becoming part of the daily workflows of engineers?

    Can you make tools, like the 15-parameter beam design, where a chat interface quickly generates and verifies SD-level designs?

    What advice would you offer to those entering or already in the profession who are keen on specializing in AI and ML in our field?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How AI and ML Are Revolutionizing Engineering Design and Construction:





    Building AI applications boils down to knowing your field inside out. The key is using AI tools to fix real, annoying problems. Those who've been in the trenches, dealing with repetitive tasks, are the ones who can spot what needs fixing. In the world of machine learning and AI, it's about tackling those issues head-on.

    In 2015, a team member brought up machine learning, highlighting its role in big tech. Realizing its potential, Robert saw it as predicting solutions by fitting curves to smart data, like what engineers do. This sparked the idea of creating an app for the whole team, offering fast, accurate solutions and saving time in our daily work.

    The aim is to teach a computer to mimic human intelligence, usually a five- to 10-year process. By efficiently using real information and tapping into collective expertise for fast problem-solving, the goal is to speed up engineering, providing quick answers that can be later validated through traditional methods.

    In the AI landscape, a startup called T2D2.ai emerged from an R&D project in 2017 or 2018. Within six months, they trained a model using computer vision to detect concrete cracks and expanded its capabilities to assess various exterior damages. This tech significantly cuts down building inspection time compared to manual efforts, showcasing a shift in how work is done through AI. It's a glimpse into the industry's early stages of utilizing AI, with the potential for future innovations to create entirely new problem-solving approaches.

    The concept involves adopting frequent, cost-effective inspections to prevent major issues, with a focus on tracking changes over time and observing the evolution of existing damage — an often-overlooked task due to its manual nature. This digitized approach introduces fresh possibilities and adds value through technology, offering a more proactive and cost-effective strategy compared to traditional industry practices.

    Project management, encompassing technical,

    • 26 min
    AECT 032: Unveiling the Mysteries of the Deep: Next-Generation Underwater Robotic Systems

    AECT 032: Unveiling the Mysteries of the Deep: Next-Generation Underwater Robotic Systems

    In this episode, I talk with Brad Clause, global account executive at VideoRay, about the innovations behind VideoRay's Mission Specialist Underwater Robotic Systems, their unique features, and their adaptability. We also explore their applications, partnerships, and exciting future developments.



    ***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Brad:



    Can you discuss VideoRay's mission specialist, and underwater robotic systems and how they have redefined the inspection class category?

    What is a high-level example of a project where a customer utilized one of your products?

    How do the power and maneuverability of these robots contribute to their effectiveness in navigating challenging environments?

    When it comes to mission planning, is it more of a desk-based activity before heading into the field with the robot, or does it involve a combination of office and on-site work?

    How do these robots operate at significant depths for extended periods, and what factors contribute to their ability to do so?

    What kind of mission would require the vehicles to stay underwater for an extended period?

    Can you provide examples of organizations that offer accessories to enhance the vehicles for specific use cases, expanding their functionality?

    How has the technology benefited the U.S. Navy as one of your clients?

    Can you discuss the advantages of deploying robots in hazardous situations instead of humans?

    How has your experience been integrating VideoRay's systems with AEC workflows, and could you offer insights into the types of projects they are involved in?

    What are some other commonly encountered built-world assets where the application of underwater vehicles and technology could be beneficial?

    Can you provide insights into the organization and share what they are incorporating into the realm of video?

    What new things are you expecting in the future for underwater vehicles, and how do you think these changes will affect your customers, especially those in the AEC sector?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Next-Generation Underwater Robotic Systems:





    In underwater inspections, the Pro 5 and Defender vehicles excel in power and performance, navigating currents over 4 knots effortlessly. Their Ethernet-based system offers a plug-and-play setup for accessories, ensuring quick recovery within 5 to 10 minutes in case of failures. The open architecture allows users to troubleshoot and swap components easily, making it a user-friendly solution even for non-experts. This technology is a game-changer for for-profit businesses, minimizing downtime and project disruptions.

    In the offshore wind turbine sector, these vehicles are crucial for tasks like initial underwater inspections, cable and MONOPILE planning, and ongoing asset management. They use advanced accessories, like UT sensors and cathodic protection, and collaborate with innovative camera technology for real-time 3D modeling during inspections, covering structures from piers to bridges.

    In hydroelectric environments with strong currents, these vehicles excel in autonomous inspections, covering large areas with minimal supervision. Using a DVL/GPS combo, they precisely navigate near the bottom, enhancing their effectiveness in inspecting football field-sized areas. The station-keeping feature is invaluable in high currents, providing a stable platform for enhanced sonar and video imagery, meeting over 90 percent of customer requirements.

    Mission planning is flexible — you can pre-program the vehicle before heading to the field or adjust plans on-site based on real-time subsea imagery, ensuring precise and adaptable inspections for optimal effectiveness.

    • 18 min

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