Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembrance Day 2017

There are many battles in too many wars to fully pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of these conflicts.

Earlier this year I was fortunate to be able to tour some of these monuments in the North of France, in particular, my wife and I were able to visit many memorials (there are so many WW1 cemeteries that are so well respectfully kept by the small townships) specifically we visited the Canadian memorial Vimy Ridge, the ANZAC Memorial in Villers Bretonneux, the township of Passchendaele, the Beaumont-Hamel memorial dedicated to the Newfoundland Regiment,and the Thiepval Memorial to the Battle of the Somme where two of my Mum's uncles fought and survived. 

All of which are very powerful, moving tributes to those who served.

Hill 70

We were there to commemorate the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the battle of Hill 70, a pre-cursor to Vimy Ridge and critical in the establishment of Curie's reputation as a strong leader of Canadian forces.

One thing that struck me as I walked by many (too many) headstones was the age of these young men who lay beneath my feet.  18, 20, 34, 17, 21, 18..... and it goes on and on and on....


This Saturday at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month I will be attending our local Remembrance Day event.


If you are able please spend some time to remember those that have sacrificed their lives, whether they were killed in action, wounded or survived and able to come home albeit a changed person.

 Think about those veterans that are come home from our current conflicts, some with visible battle scars, all with the less visible scars of memories of war. 
 Lest we forget.
 Of the Vimy Ridge Monument, Walter Allward once said that his inspiration for the monument came to him in a dream. The two pylons represent Canada and France, the two nations beset by war and united to fight for a common goal of peace and freedom for the Allied nations. 

To some, the pylons seem like twin sentinels, silently guarding a peaceful world, or a gateway to a better world where peace prevails.


Monday, 6 November 2017

What does your future look like?

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to speak to a full class of enthusiastic, engaging Architectural, Engineering Technology students at Thompson Rivers University, it was a lot of fun and I was asked some great questions by the students.

I spoke to them on how BIM has changed the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owners and Operators) industry and the impact of BIM and technology that utilizes BIM will have in the future. I spoke on a wide range of topics from the transition from the traditional drafting process to the current state of BIM and it impacts on our deliverables including BIM utilization and data management and visualization.

Here are some points I made to the class of young people who are just starting out in their career in BIM.

Diversity is the key, diversity in your experiences and diversity of acquired skills which will lead you too opportunities in the AEC industry.

Specialize, find the one thing you can excel at. If you can specialize and become the subject matter expert (SME) in one application or process, you immediately become more valuable as an employee and you just gave yourself a differentiator on your resume. Could be as simple as knowing how to use Navisworks, dRofus or understanding the workflow into Virtual Reality.

Take opportunities to advance your skills. These opportunities may not be directly related to your field of choice but if you learn more about the downstream or upstream processes you’ll be in a greater position to help facilitate the processes, whether that's in a variety of disciplines such as fabrication, construction, project management or design, well-rounded skills will make you more versatile and adaptable.

Quite often opportunities appear when no one else wants the job. I know lots of Architects that cannot adapt and have limited skills because they have limited themselves in their focus and have not taken opportunities presented to them to learn new skills or improve their knowledge outside of their narrowly focused field.

Branding, you create your opportunities by how you promote yourself, branding is key!
Your brand is your image you present to the industry, keep it professional and humble.

I really enjoyed my time at TRU and hope to visit the class again soon to follow up on their progress.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Training within a minimal budget

I recently was asked how to approach training for a smaller firm with a minimal budget for in-house training. 

This is a common issue with smaller firms who don’t have the budget (both time and $$) for training, yet it is critical for their success and continued viability in keeping up with the competition.

Training can be challenging for smaller firms, there is a fine balance in the need and cost of educating your staff for the benefit of the company, however, if you do not have an education strategy for your staff you are inhibiting your firm's growth potential. 

Education strategy does not necessarily need to be onerous and expensive, a balance needs to be met between the needs of the staff and the economic impact, there is a huge amount of benefits to educating your staff including:
  • Staff satisfaction which equates directly to staff retention
  • Efficiency in production
  • Utilization of assets (your expensive software)

Here are some suggestions for an economic strategy towards training.

In-house training: Look for a champion who can take up the gauntlet of improving the skillsets of the office. This individual typically is passionate about the software and wants to improve the process using the software. This champion will be the go-to person for finding the information and facilitate sharing the knowledge, he or she does not need to be an expert…yes, you read that correctly.. they only need to know the basics and where to get the information and have the skills to share the information, once the information is passed on the users will quickly become the experts which you can then draw upon to share their knowledge with any new or less experienced staff.

Make everyone a champion: Look for people who have existing knowledge or expertise, for example, an individual Revit user may have a great understanding of the use of Schedules. Have this person do a short presentation or develop a handout on the topic, you can utilize the existing wealth of knowledge at your disposal.

Keep it current and mix it up: On-demand training is crucial to address a projects immediate needs, select topics that are in need of for current projects, survey your team to see what challenges they are facing and create a session with brief handouts around their needs. When you don’t have any immediate needs go a little “off script”, have a presentation from someone outside of your typical scope such as someone from Contract Administration or Accounting to talk about their aspect of the project delivery process. The sharing of this knowledge helps us all understand why we have to do certain things (like timesheets, ugh!) and it keeps it interesting.

Online resources: There are many online resources available for eLearning from companies that specialize in application training to simply pulling together a selection of uTube videos or web links as a resource for specific topics, if someone comes to you saying they are having difficulties completing a task, for example, Revit roofs, you can direct them to a series of Blogs (ahem) and uTube videos as a resource. You need to be able to direct people to support themselves, even though you may have an “in-house” champion your staff needs to be able to find answers themselves.

Team building: Spend time once a week on team building, this could be as simple as 1 hour a week discussing project challenges. What you will find is that other people will be able to provide their experience or knowledge with the rest of the team, this helps build respect and comradery with your team.

Training and education is a combined effort and involves everyone from management to interns.

Show appreciation: We all appreciate it when we get a pat on the back, you can do this by periodically providing lunch for your staff that attends the training sessions… and use that time to share knowledge. You also get a better rate of participation when lunch is provided. Recognition of individuals for their efforts is also a reward in itself.

Prioritize your staff’s time: Many AEC offices are approached by suppliers to come in and provide lunch and have the opportunity to present their product. Evaluate what is more important, maybe limit suppliers Lunch and Learn in favor of internal training, evaluate which suppliers you want to present to your staff and set a limit to balance your staff’s time between knowledge of products and internal training.

The number one key to success in training your staff is giving them permission to learn, production staff (everyone) feels an obligation to be productive and when we learn a new process or application we get frustrated because of the additional time it takes to accomplish a task that we typically can do in less time. Management needs to give their staff permission to learn and voice the understanding that immediate efficiency will be impacted while learning is taking place, that they accept that cost in the understanding of the overall long-term benefits. Management needs to give their staff permission to learn.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Finally... The ability to show Depth in Revit

Depth Cueing Revit Elevations

A new feature to Revit 2017 is “Depth Cueing”, this function now gives us the ability to graphically display distance to our elevation.

Depth Cueing makes elements that are further away to show up lighter to suggest distance.

Under Graphical Display Options, we now have control over how far away objects relative to how much lighter they become.



Tuesday, 29 August 2017

BIM User Group?

Are you a member of a BIM user Group?

I was instrumental in starting our BIM user group in my region as things progress we transitioned the group to Facebook and hold a yearly networking session. 

I'm a great supporter of these types of gatherings as they can be a fantastic opportunity to share information, knowledge and provide an opportunity to network with industry peers.

Here are some links to some Canadian BIM User groups.

The success of these groups is typically the result of a few people who rely on the support and attendance of you, the audience and ultimately the recipients of the benefits of these groups. 

BIM Groups are an excellent way to expand your network and knowledge base.

Support your local user group, whether you're new at BIM or a seasoned expert. Share your experiences, talk about your project challenges and participate in your local BIM User group.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Acquiring Revit Project Coordinates

Typical workflow to acquire project coordinates that we use goes something like this:

1: Obtain Civil or Survey CAD file + Link it into Revit Project; this is typically the “Site” project, but can also be the “Main model” if you are not breaking out the Site in a separate file.

2: Move the CAD file into the proper location as it relates to the building; you can rotate, shift up down left right, etc., etc. – Important to note that you are looking to match a specific geodetic elevation associated within the CAD file to your main floor elevation in addition to the location of the building on the site.

3: Acquire the coordinates of the CAD file – now your Revit model coordinates will match the Real World Coordinates that are (mostly) always associated with the survey file.

4: Next, provide your consultants with the Revit file that has acquired the CAD coordinates. Have them link it Center to Center, or something other than Shared coordinates.

5: Locate (move) the Linked model in the correct position, and then acquire its coordinates.

Note: There are often steps that we take to clean-up the CAD file first (ie: locate specific topo lines on an easily identifiable layer so that you can associate the CAD file in elevation relative to Main floor levels, for example).

The best test that we use after we have acquired the coordinates of the CAD file, is to export a CAD file from Revit (be sure to use Shared Coordinates in the export set-up) and then open the survey and xref the Revit export to 0,0,0. The files should align perfectly if everything has been done correctly. 

Thanks to Dan Sawyer for writing this out for me... I get a lot of questions on this process and Dan's my go-too guy.