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.


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.

The Passion of You

It was damn cold in Drammen in October.

My girlfriend’s mother’s old bicycle was struggling underneath me, more because of the state of the bike itself than the weight it’s passenger. It was damn early as well.

It was 7 am and I was on my way to the warehouse where I worked for the time being. After a summer of all kinds of weird and unpleasant jobs I had finally managed to get a steady income working indoors, sorting athletic gear and underwear. Being a graduated engineer with a master’s degree in structural analysis and design in 2003 was pretty hard. I didn’t have the best grades and the market was slow. So slow that I had to take whatever work that would pay my bills.

And every morning, riding my girlfriend’s mother’s old bike, I passed the huge castle where one of the biggest and most renowned engineering companies in Drammen had their offices. The building was located some distance up a hill, and loomed majestically as I passed, shivering in awe.

I had been trying to get an opportunity at the company, but nobody wanted to take a chance in a very uncertain building industry. After some time though, they accepted my initiatives and I got a job working as an engineer 5 months after graduation. I still remember the day as one of the happiest moments in life. I would be working in a heated office – a castle! – not a cold warehouse. I would even get my own computer and a telephone.

During my studies I had come across 3D modeling in AutoCAD and 3ds max, and was naturally both pleased and excited that I’d be working with the former. LT actually, but who cares – there was warm coffee in the kitchen! I’d done some pretty advanced modeling in acad, learnt sweeps and extrusions, and boolean operations. I had also learnt how to blow everything up in max. I knew I liked it, and I knew I could do it pretty good.

9 months later I sat at the same place, staring at my computer screen. I was the world champion of offsetting lines and counting rebars. Every time a design changed, I’d redo some pretty basic calculations, offset lines and count the rebars over again. And over again. I never saw the faces of the architects that I worked with and I very rarely did more advance engineering work than validating concrete foundations and wood structures. I had become disillusioned and demotivated. Don’t get me wrong – I am eternally grateful to the leaders and colleagues how took me in when no one wanted me, but I was simply not passionate about the tasks I was doing.

By 2005 I got a job offer. Through coincidences and connections I was approached by a company who needed someone to teach 3D AutoCAD. Both my mother and father were teachers, I knew I loved 3D and the decision became pretty easy to make. I spent 3 months preparing my first Autodesk Architectural Desktop (ADT) Basic Training session, and learnt more during the 3 days of the course then I did preparing. After a few of the next training sessions I learnt all the modeling tools, the Style Manager and even the infamous Display Manager.

Then one day I saw it.

I still remember the venue outside Barcelona in the summer of 2005. Tatjana Dzambazova and John Adams were showing cross-disciplinary coordination using a software called Revit. After them, a tall man with a big ass afro – David Conant – strolled up on stage showing off some features in this apparently groundbreaking program. It soon became apparent that all the cool guys used Revit rather than ADT, and it din’t take long before I started playing around with it. I bought Paul Aubin’s Mastering Revit Building 9.1, and after some months learning I got a new job teaching Revit.

Almost 6 years later, in December 2012, I stood in a carpet room at Autodesk University Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, talking to the participants who had just attended my first ever presentation off Norwegian soil. I had talked, stuttered and fumbled about concrete reinforcement modeling in Revit for 90 minutes, and was ready to find a bar with some Aaron Maller in it. At that exact moment I realized that I had just found the core of my passions: teaching others about the tools I wish I had nine year ago. Showing young architects and engineers that there are more things to a working life than offsetting lines – that we can build, coordinate and analyze digital 3-dimensional prototypes before they are built, and do so with building blocks that are connected in a database that allows you to revise your design instantly. Anywhere. Any time.

Last year, in 2013, I read Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I have developed a firm belief that one of the biggest potentials for innovation in the building design industry is helping young people find their passions. I know this from my own experience. In order to do great work you need to be passionate about what you do; In order to do great creative work you need to absolutely fucking love it.

Robinson says that there are two main features and two conditions that need to be in place in order for an individual to discover her Element. The features are aptitude and passion, and the conditions are attitude and opportunity. The sequence goes like this: I get it; I love it; I want it; Where is it?

I really like the way Sir Ken Robinson finishes his book:

To make the best of our time together on this small and crowded planet, we have to develop – consciously and rigorously – our powers of imagination and creativity within a different framework of human purpose. Michelangelo once said, ” The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” For all our futures, we need to aim high and be determined to succeed.

To do that each of us individually and all of us together need to discover the Element.

Have you found your passion? Do you know your Element? Does time fly when you concentrate on the fun parts? Does your work include fun parts at all? Do you know anyone who definitely know their Element? Do you know anyone who definitely don’t? Ask yourself these questions, and in case you have found yours: help someone else find theirs.

It was damn warm in Las Vegas in December. I looked back at the sea of change and wondered where my (ex) girlfriend’s mother’s bike was.