Last year, I was fortunate enough to not only attend but speak at the Connect & Construct Summit and Autodesk University. I’ve been an AU attendee since 2007 and a presenter since 2008. Getting the chance to present is a great professional opportunity, and last year, I was able to showcase some of the interesting ways Winter has been utilizing new technologies on recent projects, as well as illustrate some of what I’ve learned over the course of my career.
Meet David Epps: David Epps is the Director of Construction Technology at Winter Construction, a private commercial construction company based in Atlanta, Georgia. David has worked in the construction industry for the past 20 years, and has facilitated the construction process on more than 300 projects both on and off the job site via Building Information Modeling and Virtual Design and Construction since 2002. He is the former President of the Atlanta Revit Users group, an active member of the BIMForum Leadership Group, a member of the Autodesk Global Construction Customer Council, a contributing author of the AGC 'BIM 101' & 'Contractor's Guide To BIM' and a frequent presenter at national industry conferences since 2007.
Presenting at the Connect and Construct Summit 2017
At Autodesk University, my colleague Christopher Baierl, BIM Manager at Winter Construction, and I presented a case study showing how Winter integrated new technologies in the early phases of an in-progress project building a boutique dual-branded hotel in midtown Atlanta. We used laser scanning and photogrammetry with UAV drone flights in conjunction with the ReCap Pro software to capture existing conditions at the site, and the project team managed documentation and coordinated the project using the BIM 360 platform. It’s always exciting to get to try out new technologies on a project, and the scope and challenges of this one made it a great opportunity to do so.
However, at a time when new technologies are popping up all the time, knowing which ones to adapt, and when, and in which capacity, can be overwhelming. At Connect & Construct, I gave a presentation on choosing the right jobsite technology, where I shared some of the strategies I’ve used throughout my career to handle the rapid pace of technological change in the AEC industry. Having worked on a range of project scopes, I’ve learned that no matter the scale of the project, the problems remain the same. My job is finding ways to proactively solve or avoid those problems using technology. While there is no magic formula on how to do this, there are some best practices that can avoid headaches later. Here are some of my suggestions:
1. Sit down with your teams and figure out what their challenges are, then buy the tools to solve those problems.
2. Dip your toes in the water and test out the tools, rather than invest in expensive tools right away and try to fit them into your workflow.
3. Make a business case for the technologies, using the language that stakeholders understand, and demonstrating the value the tools will provide.
4. Don’t overwhelm yourself or your team. Just get down to the things you really want and find the quick wins.
5. Find internal proponents other than yourself who will believe in and sell these tools - which you will find if you’re solving their problems.
Finally, and above all, be patient and persistent. By focusing on communication and taking small steps, you can find a process of technology adoption that works best for your company.
Why Attending Autodesk University Is So Beneficial
While presenting is a memorable experience, most of the benefit comes just from attending conferences like Connect & Construct and Autodesk University. Not only do you get to learn the insights of peers and industry leaders and find out about the latest tech, you get the chance to network with people across AEC and other industries. Sometimes understanding new developments is best done the old-fashioned way: face-to-face. You get to hear the success stories (and challenges) of companies from across the globe, which can inform the challenges you face back home. You can participate in interactive workshops to help address real-world challenges. You also have opportunities to meet other technology providers that integrate with Autodesk and BIM 360. If you haven’t yet found the right tool to solve that pesky problem, this is a good place to ask around. Or if you’re not sure whether or not it’s time to buy that new software, talk to the makers and see if it really fits your needs.
I look forward to this year’s Autodesk University on November 13-15 in Las Vegas. It looks like it should be one of the best ones yet, especially for anyone in construction (and if you’re in construction, make sure to come to the Connect & Construct Summit, when we have the place to ourselves). Plus, it’s in Vegas. Need I say any more?
Want to learn more about Autodesk University 2018?