5 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

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 005: How 360-Cameras Are Becoming the New Standard for AEC Projects

    AECT 005: How 360-Cameras Are Becoming the New Standard for AEC Projects

    In this episode, I talk to Brian Vizarreta, construction tech and marketing manager with StructionSite, about how 360-cameras are becoming the new standard for AEC projects and the impact it has on architectural and engineering projects.

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Brian:



    Can you please tell our listeners about yourself and what you do daily?

    How can 360-cameras make an impact on architectural and engineering projects?

    How do you approach projects with the problem and then apply the correct technology for it?

    How do you scale an internal technology program?

    What implementation strategy would you suggest to field teams for successful product implementation?

    How is the data being used in ways that were not always possible before?

    How important do you deem feedback to the clients and how can companies create a feedback loop to track the return on investment?

    Do you have any thoughts on best practices for bringing your product into a company?

    What strategy are you using to market your product up to company operations levels?

    What advice would you like to give our listeners?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How 360-Cameras Are Becoming the New Standard for AEC Projects:





    When engineers do site visits, they usually take as many photos as they can and take as many notes as they can. 360-cameras take single photos that have a lot more context in them. They take a single photo that displays the entire view of a room in all directions. 360-cameras speed up the rate of context while using the same amount of effort.

    Renovation projects are approached differently from historic preservation projects. Look at the vertical, talk with the product executives and find out what their project needs are, and break up your approach accordingly. 360-cameras can be presented in three use cases: easier remote collaboration, tracking the schedule, and assisting in change management.

    Scaling an internal technology program should happen naturally if the return of time is faster than the current methods. Qualitative insights will be the biggest driving factor for scaling an internal technology program.

    For field teams to have successful product implementation, transparency is the key. There is a small learning curve to using 360-cameras, but you will see results after the first use. They will discover that the photos they captured will be auto-organized and realize the amount of time that can be saved from using 360-cameras. Letting a younger engineer do site visits with a 360-camera will let you utilize your seasoned engineers in a much better way by utilizing the images remotely from the office. It cuts down the travel time and the time spent organizing the photos after the site visit.

    In the post-project debrief, the 360-camera photos can help you to find ways to better approach your next project, and they can be used as a reference for future projects. All the information will be available for future reference even if the staff members who worked on the project are not working for the company anymore.

    The effectiveness of a feedback loop depends on the personality of the engineer in the field. Most engineers solve many complex problems daily and are not the kind of people to celebrate every problem they solve. You must set up a type of cadence to extract the feedback information from your product users. To get a higher return on investment, approach multiple field teams at once. If your product is successful on two or three projects, consider bringing it to an executive or superintendent meeting where you can showcase how it was useful for their projects, and discuss the implementation of it for the entire company or division.

    Some best practices for bringing your product ...

    • 32 min
    AECT 004: How AEC Professionals Can Start a Reality Capture Program in Their Company

    AECT 004: How AEC Professionals Can Start a Reality Capture Program in Their Company

    In this episode, I talk to Scott Harrigan, the President of Harkin Aerial, about how AEC Professionals can start and grow a reality capture program in their company.

    Engineering Quotes:





    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Scott:



    How do you define reality capture, and what type of reality capture equipment do you work with?

    Can any size AEC firm use this technology? Can you give us an idea of the different levels of cost?

    What are some of the things a firm can do to ensure their staff has the necessary training and experience needed to use new technology?

    Why is it important for firms to have a champion of some kind for their technology, especially when it comes to reality capture?

    How can AEC get started and identify the correct tool needed for reality capture?

    Once firms have identified and started using the new technology, how can they ensure they grow with the technology?

    What final piece of advice would you like to give our listeners?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How AEC Professionals Can Start a Reality Capture Program in Their Company:





    Reality capture means developing models for measuring at different scales. Most firms are potentially doing reality capture already by doing things like measuring a wall and drawing up that measurement.

    If you are taking measurements and doing any kind of drawing or drafting with those measurements, then you are doing reality capture to a degree. The difference between using new reality capture technologies is the amount of field data that you get. Instead of taking discreet one-by-one measurements, the new technology uses laser scanning, photogrammetry, and video walk-throughs, which are distilled down to the measurements you need. It is a different way of obtaining the data, but it is still the same data that was captured in previous ways.

    You must have someone on your staff who has an investment in reality capture to ensure you can provide the correct training for your other staff members. Listen to your staff to see in what direction the training needs to go. Let your staff have exploratory time where they go out into the field and decide which reality capture option would work best for your firm.

    Your firm's new technology champion must have a broad skill set, be motivated, and have an interest in the new technology to learn more about it. The champion's approach is what will dictate the success of the internal program and the training of the rest of the staff. Smaller firms often outsource services until they can produce the service for themselves.

    People often get drawn into a certain kind of technology because they read about it or saw it in use on a project, but sometimes it is not a good fit for the firm. When looking for a reality capture program for your firm, first look at what you will need to get out of it. Always look at the problems you are trying to solve and base your decision accordingly.

    Selecting the correct reality capture tool that matches the level of work you want to accomplish, the level of complexity, and the level of cost puts your firm on the right track to grow with the technology. Start looking for ways that the reality capture tool can be profitable to your firm. You will come to a time where you must start looking at ways to broaden the technology to better cope with the workloads. The reality capture process will have challenges within it that must be resolved, but the key is to keep those challenges simpler than the ones you had without the technology. One of the best things you can do to grow the technology is to find a community of people who use the same technology and talk to them about things you are encountering.

    When starting reality capture, be clear about what your end goal and expectations are.

    • 22 min
    AECT 003: How AEC Firms Can Streamline Site Investigations with a Modern Software Alternative

    AECT 003: How AEC Firms Can Streamline Site Investigations with a Modern Software Alternative

    In this episode, we talk to Declan Vanderhor, a geotechnical engineer by trade and founder of TabLogs, as well as with Hannah Thomas, a geotechnical engineer and account executive at TabLogs, about how to streamline site investigations by removing the data entry bottleneck, as well as some commonalities between technologies applied to all civil engineering disciplines.

    Engineering Quotes:











    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Declan and Hannah:





    Talk to us about TabLogs' origin story. How did it all begin?

    What are some of the drawbacks of the current industry practice for logging geotechnical/environmental site investigations?

    What is the cost of consultancy inaction, and why do you think there hasn't been a digital logging solution adopted across the industry yet?

    Why hasn’t the industry adopted a digital logging solution to this point?

    How can TabLogs help engineering firms streamline site investigations with a modern software alternative?

    How do you strike the balance between what is required in a project and what might need some customizability?

    How does TabLogs facilitate remote communication?

    What is next for TabLogs?

    What advice would you like to give our listeners?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How AEC Firms Can Streamline Site Investigations:



    Declan started developing TabLogs soon after school when he discovered there was no easy way to log information digitally on-site for himself and his friends.

    There is no standard in the practice of logging geotechnical/environmental site investigations. Most data logging is based on what the engineer and client want to see for that specific project. It means that the back-end of the data entry software must always be changed to suit the project before data entry can be done. It is a time-consuming and iterative task that most engineers do not enjoy doing.

    Standardization is very important to data capture on-site. It lets young engineers to seasoned engineers capture data in the same way and using the same terminology. It advances the efficiency of engineering consultancy and streamlines site investigations to improve the cost margins in the project process. Clients will pick a consultancy that can get information on the day of drilling instead of a consultancy that will get the information to them two weeks later.

    The idea of adopting a digital logging solution is not difficult to grasp, but it is difficult for engineers to adapt to using software on a tablet when they are out in the field and covered in mud. It is difficult to produce a software solution that will suit all engineers, and this is why a digital data logging solution has not been adopted in the industry.

    TabLogs can help engineering firms streamline site investigations because it is based on tabs instead of everything being written and has an easy-to-use interface. It can be set up on the front-end of the software according to what needs to be done before going out to the site, which eliminates confusion, and ensures the correct instrumentation is taken with. Senior engineers can keep tabs on the drilling process and instruct junior engineers to do things from the office.

    For areas of projects that might need customizability, the governing standard of the region must be leveraged to predictively change the logging menu and streamline the logging process. An option to add notes and favorite notes is always available under the description from a drop-down menu.

    At sites that have a network available, feedback is sent to the office, and vice-versa, in real time. It enables the office and people in the field to have immediate communication to ensure the jobs are being done optimally and decisions can be made and carried out immediately.

    • 26 min
    AECT 002: How AEC Firms Can Get Started with New Technology and Tools

    AECT 002: How AEC Firms Can Get Started with New Technology and Tools

    In this episode, I talk with Adam Kersnowski about how AEC firms can get started with new technology and tools, and how implementing AI can help create a better work environment and bolster company culture.

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Adam:



    What Is Airworks and What Kind of Businesses Does It Support?

    Why do you think AEC professionals need to be aware of upcoming trends in the industry?

    How can employees advocate for the implementation of new tech and what should they look out for?

    How can firms get started with new technology and tools?

    What is the power of AI in AEC, and what kind of efficiencies should people look for?

    What is the human touch in the back-end of the deep learning process?

    What are some of the common misconceptions when implementing new tech?

    How is the labor shortage in the industry affecting people's inclination to seek tech or learn new skills?

    How does AirWorks play specifically into the civil engineering and infrastructure markets?

    Can you give some examples of sensor data that AirWorks would get from a client and how it would process the data?



    Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How AEC Firms Can Get Started with New Technology and Tools:





    AirWorks is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company with machine learning at the core of its software. They develop algorithms to best serve engineers and construction teams who want to get site information in the form of imagery and point clouds.

    The amount of imagery that is being collected now will double in just a year. How companies manage these coming large datasets is very important. Current shortages in labor departments are causing bottlenecking in trying to keep up with the rise in workloads.

    When looking at new technology for your company, look at what the return on investment will be and if it will be effective for the company. Look at the technology datasets and be sure they are not testing the technology in a lab setting with ideal conditions because it is never like that in the field. Test the new technology on a real project to find how it stacks up against the processes that are currently in place.

    For firms to get started with new technology and tools, they must first pinpoint where their needs are and where they are experiencing bottlenecks. Companies like AirWorks can help them find this information, see what technologies they are currently using, and see how their deliverable can be made to minimize any interruptions to the firm’s workflow.

    AI is a broad-spectrum term that has levels below it, like machine learning and deep learning. Many companies have their software working at the deep learning level. AirWorks works with ortho imagery where aircraft, drones, and sensors on the ground collect data and it is all stitched together into an orthoimage. The orthoimage is then broken down into tiles and the tiles are broken down into pixels, and each pixel is assigned an RGB value. The deep learning models look at the RGB values and find the patterns in the values to find the edge of the objects in the orthoimage.

    Deep learning models come from errors that have been corrected and then the corrections are used to retrain the model. It is the only way that the model learns and gets better.

    Deep learning model predictions of data are not always of the best quality. This is where the human help steps in to correct the data and do final quality control before the deliverable is sent to the client. The corrections made by the human are recorded and returned to the deep learning model to train it to process the data better in the future.

    New technology and developing AI is not about replacing jobs, but rather about creating a better work environment because it is only a too...

    • 30 min
    AECT 01: 5 Steps to Successfully Introduce New Software to Your Company

    AECT 01: 5 Steps to Successfully Introduce New Software to Your Company

    In this episode, I introduce you to the host of this show, Nick Heim, P.E., a field and virtual design and construction (or VDC) engineer at StructureCare, and we outline five steps that you can take to choose and introduce new software in your company.

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are 5 Steps to Successfully Introduce New Software to Your Company:

    1. Identifying software that can make a difference. Envision what the business will look like in the next few years, and then find the technology to fit it.



    “The most important part of making a business case to use new technology at your firm is to start with a problem, then point out the inefficiencies that technology is designed to improve. Tracking things such as expanding collaboration from Project Services teams to the field, or qualitative feedback such as a better client experience, can begin to make the technology a business decision rather than a nice-to-have.” ~ Brian Vizarreta, Solutions Marketing Manager, StructionSite





    “Start with the problem, then find the technology. Not the other way around. Then make sure to measure the impact for all parties involved.” ~ Brian Vizarreta

    2. Decide if that new software will be beneficial for you and a few people, or companywide. Looking for a multifunctional solution that will benefit many different areas in the engineering firm is key because it will be an easier sell to the decision-makers in the engineering firm.



    3. Engage someone from that software company to help you map out the benefits that your company would realize from this new software, and if you can put that into monetary value, that would be best. Think like the decision-makers, understand what they are looking for, and provide them with the best data and information to help them decide.

    “Socialize your efforts early and often. No one likes surprises and this way you get buy-in along the way to providing a solution that addresses the first bullet.” ~ Bret Gardner, Enterprise Sales Executive at gNext, a SaaS Civil Infrastructure Management Platform

    4. Find the right person from the software company that can help you in presenting the software and the benefits to your employers. Engage the software company and ask for a pilot to show how the new software can be applied in your engineering firm.



    5. Make the pitch to your company. Know who your audience will be and conduct the presentation in a way that will best convey the value to them. Approach one of the decision-makers about the new software and present the information and data to them before the presentation. Having them be part of your presentation will be a great asset.

    More Details in This Episode…



    About Nick Heim, P.E.

    Nick is a field and VDC engineer at StructureCare, owner of Green House Property Management, and the host of the AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast. Nick's interests lie at the intersection between the built world and technology, and he can be found looking for the ever-changing answer to the question, "How can we do this better?" He can be found on LinkedIn, producing content about the use of technologies in his civil engineering career and small business.

    Sources/References:

    StructureCare

    Connect with Nick Heim, P.E., on LinkedIn

    This Episode Is Brought to You by Shingle

    Built specifically for the flexibility required by both engineers and Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) firms, Shingle is a web platform that connects experienced, U.S.-accredited P.E.s and CAD professionals with AEC firms to complete short-duration tasks. Engineering firms with overflow work can easily engage with the engineers virtually on the platform without a timely hiring or tedious contracting process. With a focus on building long-term relationships between the engineers and AEC firms,

    • 22 min

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