From the Editor: Start the New Year Looking Back to See Forward
With 2016 in the rearview mirror, it’s a great time to reflect on our accomplishments and failures as well as look ahead at the potential 2017 holds for us as individuals and for our industry as a whole.
Professionally, 2016 was a busy and exciting year for me. As regular Informed Infrastructure readers know, my column moved to the very front of this magazine, exposing me to a much wider range of practical applications of emerging technology and forcing me think more holistically about the interconnectedness of the vast infrastructure and buildings industries. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet and speak with a number of influential professionals who work to make our built environment a better place to live.
It also was a busy year for my company, Engineered Efficiency Inc. For years, we’ve provided eLearning training via Wareflix and “boots on the ground” consulting services to engineers, architects, contractors and owners/developers, and in 2016 we expanded both phases of operations.
Wareflix Enterprise customers have always had access to best-in-class training, but the service wasn’t open to individual subscribers. That changed in 2016, and individuals now can subscribe to thousands of lessons for solutions from Autodesk, Bentley, Microsoft and more. In fact, readers of this magazine can register for a free account. Head to app.wareflix.com/register to get yours!
Many other firms associated with or mentioned in this magazine had a busy year, too. Steve Gido at Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners writes about what can be learned from 2016’s notable mergers and acquisitions. Read all about it in his latest Executive Corner column, “Five Takeaways from 2016 A/E M&A Activity.”
Looking back often informs our ideas of what’s to come. Each year, for example, we reach out to our Editorial Advisory Board to comment on what we can expect for the civil and structural engineering industries. The board consists of a wide range of industry professionals with experience in technology development and project delivery. Gaze into the crystal ball by reading their forecasts in the “2017 Infrastructure Industry Outlook.”
For a specific prognostication, be sure to read Dustin Price’s thoughts on drones and how they can and will be used to improve surveys, modeling, construction and asset management in his Infrastructure Outlook column, “How UAV Surveying Can Improve Land-Development Projects.”
I personally predict the accelerated adoption of technology in three broad categories: 1) cloud and hybrid cloud computing; 2) advanced human interfacing with our systems, including augmented/virtual reality and enhanced tactile displays; and 3) reality capture meshing with design.
In the Moment
Many firms aren’t waiting to take advantage of the technology and resources already available to our industry. In Southern California, a structural steel detailer used BIM models to prevent delays by better connecting the design and fabrication aspects of a new library’s complex steel frame. Read all about it in Michael Gustafson’s article, “Coastal Library ‘Rides the BIM Wave.’” Enabling technology already exists to improve lifecycle efficiencies. As an industry, we need to tackle the legal and contractual hurdles that make widescale implementation of this tech commonplace.
Collaboration and analysis with cloud-based services are the new reality and are increasingly used in the AEC industry to reduce costs and increase profits. In “Use the Cloud to ‘Make It Rain,’” starting on page 24, I discuss the basics of cloud computing and present real-world examples of engineering and construction firms who are improving their operations and bottom line with this market-ready tech. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.
Finally, there’s no better time than the present to keep your skills up to date. Check out our continuing education section on Designing Dam Embankments with Articulating Concrete Block Systems. Learn how to perform Factor of Safety calculations as well as the importance of ASTM standards, and earn PDH/CEUs while you’re at it! Also, be sure to read about how a rail line to oilfields in North Dakota used innovative erosion-control technology to save time and money. Then read our Erosion Control Products and Technology Specification Section so you can do the same.
This is one of Informed Infrastructure’s largest issues to date, and it’s a testament to the burgeoning and exciting infrastructure innovations in our industry. Thank you for turning to us to keep you informed!