Tag Archives: Passion

Dynamo Video Tutorials

How do you learn to play the piano?

You learn the basics, find a YouTube instructor, and practice a melody that you like. That’s how I do it anyway. How do you learn computer software? You learn the basics, and find a problem that you love solving. That’s how my son learnt how to ski. It has to be fun. And now I play Bach. Because I think its awesome.

I recently hosted a whole day Dynamo lab for engineering students at Bergen University College. The curriculum that I used was a developed version of material I presented in 2014 with Julien Benoit at RTCEUR, and solo at Autodesk University (AU) 2014; Computational Logic in Structural Design. The math and script was developed last summer, with much help from Zach Kron.

The structure was inspired by a question I got from a colleague during a Computational Design workshop at Dark: “Dude, have you seen the Smithsonian”? Voilà; I had a problem that I loved to solve. Now, 64 students in Bergen have learnt how to mathematically model the roof of the Smithsonian American Art Museum atrium roof in Washington DC.

After AU I expanded the example with more Structural Framing diagonals, analytical model information and Robot integration. Instead of writing new or revising documents to supplement the live labs, I decided to record short and fast video tutorials and post the on YouTube.

The students are now using these tutorials to learn Dynamo with my Smithsonian roof problem, and so can you:

Here’s the handout I wrote for AU: Computational Logic in Structural Design

In the future I hope to expand the curriculum further by applying more analytical data (Loads, Load Combinations, Boundary Conditions, Calculations, Results Management, Analytical Visualization, and so on) and perhaps genetic algorithm optimization techniques (Galapagos, Optimo). I’d be very interested to hear if you have ideas to ways this problem, and it’s solutions, could be enhanced.

Last, I gave my students an assignment. Go ahead if you want, and see if your skills and imagination can challenge theirs:

Create a Dynamo script that generates a roof of steel beams based on a trigonometric function. The example below is based on a sine curve between 0 and 180 degrees. The structure must be parametric in length, width, height and grid. Present the results in an inventive way.

Assignment

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Tribute To The Boss

This is Christine.

One week ago she was my boss. Architect and CEO of Dark Architects. Today she is not. I have some things to say about the way she led my company.

My job is largely about making others better. My passion is enabling architects and engineers with digital design tools and skills, so that they can build better buildings faster, and with greater sense of mastery, autonomy and purpose. That basically means finding and developing better ways of interacting with computers, and teaching these to others. I’m in the knowledge sharing industry. When you have a job that does not necessarily generate immediate revenue, but is part of a long term strategy for creating lasting value, there’s one thing you cannot live without: leadership that shares and supports your vision.

I’ve met many people across the world who share this passion for technology and teaching, and have similar responsibilities at their companies. I’ve spoken with building information modeling (BIM) managers who had to fight owners and board rooms to build a strategy for digital innovation. I have listened as design technologists have elaborated about internal struggles to establish employee training and budgets for conferences. I have lost track of how many times I have recommended investing in hardware – really a no-brainer – only to be ignored when the outlay appeared.

Last year my company purchased high end gaming desktops for all employees who used BIM or advanced graphical software on a daily basis. That’s probably more than 90 % of the entire crew. I asked Christine how many people we should upgrade for this time. She responded with a smile, “all”. The same year we sent 6 architects and a renegade engineer (me) to Dublin to attend the Revit Technology Conference. I asked Christine vaguely if four or five would be too many, confident I was pushing my luck. She: “I think seven would be appropriate.” That’s almost thirteen percent of the entire company. When my friend Arne and me asked if we could open source and publish our company Revit library, she said enthusiastically “why the hell not?” I set up countless training sessions for my colleagues, collaborators and competitors; sometimes for up to five or six individuals, and not rarely for several hours. I can’t remember that we ever even talked about financial problems with that.

Many leaders I’ve met have talked with passion about their employees being the “core of the company”. Few put money behind their claims. My boss did.

Interestingly, she never really wanted to be the leader of Dark Architects, but was convinced by others when our previous CEO resigned. I’m left with the impression that she cared far more about her employee’s opportunities to thrive at what they do, than her own career as a leader, or board room approval. She strikes me as the leader who would say yes downwards and no upwards. That’s leader material.

Last, one attribute that I’ve found in my former boss, and that is very hard to explain, is a natural ability to make you want to be at your best. Another colleague, Lars Ribbum, said to me once; “some people just make you want to be awesome.” Christine possess this natural ability, without you being scared. At least not very.

I believe that if you are making your colleagues better, you’re doing a good job as a leader. I now know much about what that actually means.

Good luck on your new projects, Christine! I really hope we get to work together again in the future.

Disclaimer: These are my personal reflections, and not necessarily those of my colleagues or company, although I highly doubt they will object.