Tag Archives: Rant

Why am I doing what I’m doing: A rant about challenges for a professional technologist and visions for the future

Double-curved wall reinforcementIn my handout material for the already mentioned class at Autodesk University I wrote an introduction discussing my motivation for doing what I’m doing. This is only a part of my motivations, and written with concrete reinforcement in mind. However, I believe in all possible humbleness that the words are too good to reside in a pdf attachment. Perhaps someone else reading this can relate to it? Is that the case with you? Then I’d very much like to hear from you! And if you think this is crap? Well, let me know that as well 🙂

When I first started working as a structural engineer back in 2003, I was introduced to the concepts of reinforcement drawings and bending schedules for the first time. This was of course something we never saw at the university, where static, dynamic and finite element analysis covered the curriculum. Little was I to know that these drawings and schedules were to be my main occupation the first years. And now, looking back, not always did I feel like Michelangelo drawing away.

Today, most of my fellow engineers and I are modeling almost all reinforcement in our projects in 3D. Some structures are harder to master, but most are quite easy. We are planning for our skills and knowledge to append a future where all fabrication detailing is done in a 3D database, and what better 3D database than Revit?

Our two biggest challenges in doing this are efficiently modeling reinforcement in non-rectangular, curved and double-curved concrete forms, and the shouting valley of a gap between new BIM and old CAD. The first problem is something I will discuss shortly.

The last problem is one we share with our software vendors. They are given an impossible task by us; “Please make the most sophisticated modeling software in the history of humankind, and make it how I want it in 5 years. At the same time, make it compatible with 50 year old symbolic drawing standards.” How do you solve a problem like that? As I said, and in particular this is true for reinforcement, we are faced with the same challenge when we need to model all reinforcement in a 3D building information model, and simultaneously represent and communicate it in the same way as we did 20 years ago. It is the ever present gap between future and past. In the end we are dealing with humans. And many humans love the past.

The future, however, is way more exciting. The future is a place where everything that is to be built is represented in an intuitive 3D model, just the way it is going to be built. The future is a place where the materials ordered and delivered on site, is done so from the same high-detail 3D model. The future is a world where engineers and contractors communicate design using the most intuitive way possible yet; the visual 3-dimensional representation of future.

Then, perhaps, we can feel more like Michelangelo.