...Dedicated to all things Green and BIM for MEP Engineers...and Architects, too!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Eyes Forward…The Role of Learners in a Technology Driven Society

I recently wrote an article for AUGIWorld (https://www.augi.com/augiworld/issue/december-2019), that I hadn’treally put a lot of planning to but instead tried to speak from the heart, andfrom what I’ve learned in the 59 years I’ve been here. The response has been overwhelming,and I’m humbled by all the attention and feedback. I didn’t realize what anerve it would touch, and how many people from different aspects of the designindustry would even be intrigued enough to read it. It’s interesting howdifferent emotions drive what and how we do the things we do, and what spursimagination and thought.

As I returned to work on this follow up, I’m struck by howquickly our perspectives can change. We are currently in the midst of a societalupheaval, with uneasiness and fear striking out from a virus that we knowlittle about. Playing the “what if” game drives everyone crazy, and if you owna business or manage one, you’re having to make a lot of tough decisions.

And in the midst of all of this, narrow eyes can’t see thelearning experience we are all waist deep in…how we work, where we work and thebenefits to so many things that can be had, if we simply look beyond thesefears. I can’t express enough how happy I am to be working for Gannett Fleming –the response we’ve had from our IT services group, and the support fromeveryone on the board of directors down to the core staff that makes our firm go,has been amazing.

We’ve pulled off something I never thought would happen –take thousands of workers, and shift them to a remote access, work from home businessmodel, where we can continue to do what we need to and serve our clients. I’lladmit – I was nervous, and so were a lot of us that are responsible for makingthis happen. But I also have strong faith, that guides us and provides thedirection and vision we need. It’s amazing what we were able to pull off – but itwas the team approach and commitment that made it work, with minimal issues.

Back to the original article - there were a couple ofresponses that questioned the premise of the article, and a couple more thatpointed out phrases that struck home. All were great points, but one responsemade me think about the one paragraph that no one said anything about – thepersonal responsibility of your own growth. As we now sit in our homes, and learnnew ways to work, you’re gaining a little time – time not spent commuting,traveling or getting to wherever you think you need to be. You’ve been giventhis gift of time, so how do you best spend it?

The role of college education in a technical society

With our eyes forward, it’s time for a little prognostication.As I sit here and review what our users need to learn in order to help us adaptto this type of change, it’s time to start being honest with ourselves. Basedon my own personal experience (and yea, this is my own opinion – I expecteveryone’s experience to be different), I’ve gotten far more use of mytechnical degree than the 5 years I spent wandering through the colleges. Thisis not a criticism of the schools, but more of my own responsibility.

We need to be realistic that even with all of the criticalitems an engineer, architect or scientist needs to know, not everyone needs tobe in that role. We’re all in a desperate search for that unicorn, as it’s sooften referred when searching for that BIM designer, or design technologiststhat can effectively use today’s tools. We need that design-oriented individualthat can create custom structural shapes, form new types of wall assemblies, definethe target and source relationship between engineering systems and coordinatethe myriad of infrastructure that lies below the dirt. That can do it with aminimal amount of supervision, but with the faith and trust needed to letthem get the job done. They’re the ones that can pull the miracle out on aproject and get it out the door on time, under budget and with a happy client. Faceit – our issues with getting more people into STEM fields are not so muchgetting younger individuals into the four-year college programs but become thetechnology experts that can still assemble the building, the structure and thesite.

So what does this have to do with the typical four yearschool? It’s easy – incorporate what we’ve been doing as part of the two-yearassociate type degree program as the core for the advanced career fields. Weget far too many architects and engineers that don’t have the technicalcapabilities of today’s design platforms. While some colleges are adding BIM,PIM and horizontal design to their curriculum, it’s not nearly enough. This hasled to a shortage of technically capable designers that can get 3D models,systems and more assembled in the most efficient way possible.

We’ve also tuned our path for architects and engineers tomove almost exclusively towards higher management type positions, such as theproject manager, project principal and general business manager. Where is thetechnical career path that leads this generation towards the deeper thoughtprocess needed for simulation, creativity and expression through the tools wecontinue to improve? Generative design ought to scare the he-double hockey sticksout of every old school professional. The fact that design automation, which caneliminate the redundant CAD and document tasks that continue to control our budgetsand schedule, can create its own concepts of how a wheel, chair or building tobe designed, should be enough for the design world to stop. We need to start evaluatingand altering both technical and professional college programs to move us to leadconcepts like generative design and AI – to shape it and make it so we cancreate the changes to our world that we need.

Make your OWN path

With all of this being said, there’s only one person who canmake the choice about the direction for your life and career. In order to breakfree of the traditional roles and constraints we place on ourselves in the STEMfields as well as our professions, we need to be able to make an honestassessment about our own career paths. But it’s a choice that we as individualsmust make. You must be able to challenge yourself…

One great pointy-eared science officer once asked…“Is thisall I am? Is there nothing more?”

This past year, as part of my new role, I’m taking theresponsibility of redefining our technical training curriculum and programs. Thelogic I’m using is simple…where do you want to go? We are obligated to maintainour skills in the roles we take. For example, the architect still has to be thegreat aggregator, pulling all of the different pieces of the built environmentinto a cohesive structure. We have the job requirements clearly defined…theclasses created…the expectations and goals needed to fulfill the job’s obligationsclearly enumerated.

The hard part is getting outside of the role and looking atthe right kind of “what if” scenario. Not a negative consequence, but apersonal growth, desire or ambition. Let’s say I give you the opportunity todefine the role in your own image. What would you do different? What do youneed in order to be able to make this kind of a change?

OWN can become a simple acronym…opportunity,wants, needs.

How do you take advantage of the opportunity todefine your own path?

How do you clarify what you want to accomplish?

What will be needed to make it to this goal?

By taking some of the gift of time we’re being given to do alittle self-assessment, you’d be surprised what you may come up with. With the helpof our online training providers at Eagle Point, I’m setting up OWNLearning paths, that each employee in the company can fill out. We’re going toprovide them access to all of the training materials we have in our system. Nolimits. No restrictions. But a chance for them to challenge themselves;document it; and pursue it. The system can hold them accountable for reachingthis goal – but it’s still up to them to take the steps. The employee has to bewilling to make the commitment to themselves and make an investment of theirown time.

The Rule and Conclusion of a Happy Business Life

Knowing the difference between the company’s obligation andyour own personal responsibility…that’s a tough one for us to take. If you listento today’s politicians, which in most cases can’t even be honest withthemselves and much less us, one side would have you believe that a “corporation”is nothing but pure evil. But the other side knows that corporations arepeople. And in some cases, allows them to take advantage of their staff,driving them towards unrealistic conditions that make it impossible to have asatisfying career.

So where does training and career development fit in? Where’sthat fine line, the tune that strikes the right note, the right pitch, and makeseveryone go…ahhh?

It’s a trade off. It always has been.

So here’s some comments that as an employee, youshould never make.
“I’m entitled to free training.”
“If I’m not getting paid for it, I’m not going totraining.”
“It’s not my responsibility to learn how to do that.”
“I don’t have time.”
“My clients don’t want it, so I’m not going to do it.”
And my personal favorite…”I’ve always done it this way,and don’t see a need to change it.”

At the same time, the employer can’t carry these rationalizationsforward:
“There’s no money in the budget for training.”
“Learn on your own time.”
“I expect you to do this, and I don’t care how you figureit out – just get it done.”
“You should already know how to do this.”
“My way or the highway.”
And of course, my personal favorite…”We’ve always done itthis way, and don’t see a need to change it.”

Here’s the big takeaway – in order for a business to have asuccessful relationship with their employees, it has to be sold and deliveredas a partnership. Training, learning, education…should all be part ofthe employment experience. Great managers know that their role has always beenone of service – so from the business standpoint, we have an obligation – andthe employee does NOT have a right – to train. I always loved the quote that it’sbetter to train someone and have them leave, than not train them and have themstay. The greatest way to cripple a business is to become a static point intime, where they no longer see the need or benefit for improving and changingwhat they do. Ask anyone who still has a boom box or eight track player if they’vereached the pinnacle of life…if you can still find them.

But at the same time, the employee needs to approach thebusiness as an owner. You have to take the responsibility of owning yourskill set.

Of not settling for the static point in time.

Of challenging yourself.

Of taking your own time to learn.

It’s tough to do. Life is busy. It takes. It also gives backwhat you invest in it.

We blind ourselves to what others need because it’s easy. Wecripple ourselves, because we allow others to dictate to us what we’re capable of.But this biggest shame is when we don’t try. When you get to a point in yourcareer when you think you learned all you can, you let yourself down.

But with your eyes forward, the objective is to get past previousmistakes, missed opportunities and failures, where you can stop looking at what’sholding you back, and get to where we all want to be.

I’ve been in it myself now for approaching four decades. Andwith all that life is throwing at us, the last thing we need to be doingis giving up on ourselves and our potential for what you – and we – can be. I’mnot quitting on being a learner…are you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Welcome to the New World…

It’s been way too long…but nowadays it’s tough to really find time to sit down and put thoughts to paper. Work/life items have their own balance that take precedence, and it’s easy to let time slip you by. But it’s been a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Ironic as it is, I just received my first promotion based on performance in the engineering world. Most of the time, it was a case of just taking on more responsibility or changing jobs to get ahead. That’s the nature of the technical world, which unfortunately means the design world never has really figured out how to retain and keep good people. But this time around, I was sticking around for a lot of good reasons – not as much financial as wanting to see things through. It was one of the reasons why I left the reseller channel, which is even worse at recognizing and rewarding talent. Getting to see a project completed and in use is still a real kick to me – good or bad, no matter what happens, it’s one of the best things to be able to say, I had a hand in making that happen.

So, my new role is Engineering Technology Manager – and we’re still really working out what that means, but in this role,  we’re making two important changes. First was the practice of embedding technical representation on our business line practice leadership teams, and second was to regionalize these positions to help us focus on the needs of the area, rather than spending a lot of time crossing the country. We’ll still be doing everything we did before, but the focus really helps, as we can now more specifically target the technical needs of the people that do amazing work for us. The tools, as they are, should not hamstring the teams, or at best help them radically change their workflows so we can get back to the right work/life balance. It gets frustrating to watch team members working substantial overtime, or never be able to leave for vacation without taking the apron strings off.

Left to Right: Richard Binning, Eric Blackburn and Mike Massey at Guardsman Pass, UT

Over the past week, I’ve gotten to spend some amazing time with BIM managers and directors from across the country to help define what it means to be a BIM manager…or whatever the role name is, but a leader for technological change. It was really fascinating to hear all of the different ideas from people who have had this role for some time, and to really try to understand how to quantify this position. As an industry, we’ve really had a backwards view of the impact of technology. It’s akin to giving someone a hammer, who then promptly uses the handle to pound in the nail – and then have them refuse to see why what they’re doing isn’t what that part of the tool is designed for.

Throw in a nail gun – but it’s useless if you don’t understand all of the coincidental parts to make it work. Without a compressor, or a hose long enough so you’re not moving it around all day, and don’t forget the electricity, nails, and Band-Aids for when you miss). I’ve been doing some carpentry work in the house trying to get it ready to sell, so we can move to the coast and get more out of the life we seem to be stuck in today. That nail gun is a hell of a lot better hammer that my old one, and I’m getting more done with than I ever did by muscling it the old way.

This is where BIM technology is today – and the rate of adoption and adaption is accelerating at a higher rate than even just a couple of decades ago. Reviewing a project on my phone seemed like a pipe dream when CAD came out, but now a millennial expects you to provide the phone, the software and the latte’s to help them work faster in fewer hours per day.

So, my first steps are going to be step back and take inventory of what we have and do – and figure out where the gaps are. Who’s still on AutoCAD 14…who’s using their phone to do a three-way Skype call and share a project on the phone so I can help them figure out what’s happening with design options. Who’s told their users that you don’t have time for training…and who’s taking the software and laptop home at night so they can get better at their job. Too often, we spend way too much time bemoaning between the haves and have nots, and not enough time figuring out how to lift all up, instead of tearing some down. I’m a firm believer in the former – that you don’t get anywhere by taking things away from people, but instead putting the time and tools into those that don’t so they can get ahead. The only ones I’m less likely to help are the ones that won’t instead of the ones who can’t for whatever the reason.

One of the big takeaways I had from the meeting last week was in regard to identify roles and responsibilities for a typical BIM Manager. As we mind-mapped the daylights out of the tasks, we (led by my buddy Mike Massey who deserves the credit for this) came up with four key categories that address these tasks, that all add up to PIE2:

  • Planning and Research – this category relates to the preparation a BIM manager needs to be doing to help move and keep a company in the right mindset for BIM workflows:
  • Implementation – setting up all of the background tools, tasks, documentation, standards and more that sits behind what BIM applications and workflows need;
  • Education – stepping back and looking at technical training from a different light, and being able to take the best of what we’ve learned about education delivery methods and integrating them into today’s technology to provide a better learning experience;
  • Execution – no, we’re not shooting people, but we are shooting for PAC – better productivity, more accuracy and improved coordination. The BIM manager has to understand how to execute everything in the previous categories and apply to the new project world. How to run more efficiently from go/no-go, project execution plans, design phases and post design tasks in all disciplines, a variety of project types and with a wide variety of user abilities and tools…a witches brew indeed.

So, taking a step back and looking at the big picture – what does it take to make a good BIM Manager? Patience? Virtue? Irreproachable technical expertise? An affinity for the keyboard and mouse that can’t be explained? A certain level of insanity for taking all of this on?

As I’m staring down the R word in my somewhat near future, I’m really appreciating the confidence from my leaders to challenge me more and take on this role to help solve these issues. There’s going to be days when I want to pull all eight hairs left on my head out, and others when I’ll feel like a proud dad when I see the lightbulb go on for someone who’s struggled. Wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Notes from the Support System – Revit Lighting Analysis

Autodesk continues to expand its analysis capabilities, withthe addition and improvement of the Insight 360 tools, heating and cooling loadanalysis, lighting analysis and solar analysis. I’ve been seeing more trends ofusers taking advantage of these tools, but encountering errors that at firstglance seem un-explainable. The lighting analysis tools have had a rush ofsupport questions lately, so let’s clear up the air on this tool, and help youget it working for you.

First, refer to this document that was provided by Autodeskin October, 2017 by Krishnan Gowri, Ph.D. FASHRAE, LEED AP, Principal Engineer,Generative Design Group:

Here are my tips to help you get the best results:

The lighting analysis should be conducted early in thedesign process, prior to a lot of heavy modeling that adds content such asfurniture, equipment, structure, MEP systems and more. The more complexgeometry can cause the model to fail, especially with the addition of highlydetailed components containing small surfaces. This includes content modeled toLOD 350 and above. If you want to include it, keep it in separate models thatcan be easily removed, or in worksets that can be turned off.

Make sure your model includes all of the bounding elements,including floors, ceilings, and roofs, in addition to walls and openings(including doors and windows). Keep the detail level at a minimum – forexample, if you are placing curtain walls, avoid panels and mullions thatinclude complex shapes, such a louvers, or frames that include the caulking(yes – this has happened. Great for detail but lousy for analysis). Avoid usingextra surfaces like wall sweeps – these can cause a known issue with thelighting analysis tool. One additional tool – don’t make items like columnenclosures room bounding – at least not during the early stages of design,where you’re using this tool. The few the surfaces, the more like the tool isto work.

Assign materials from the material library to the boundingelements that include surface settings for color, reflectance and more. As withthe bounding elements, keep this simple. You’re trying to gain a generalknowledge of the lighting conditions for illuminance and LEED credits, and howaltering these materials can affect the overall energy and lighting performanceof the building. but not drill down to the specific foot-candle levels at 2” intervals.

Rooms. Rooms. Rooms. You have to model these and do itcorrectly. Every area of building that is going to be analyzed must have a roomobject, with Height assigned. I recommend at a minimum to set the room upperlimit to the next bounding floor level above. When a ceiling is placed and setto be room bounding, it will automatically cap the room to that level. It willpick up the materials assigned to the ceiling, and as the ceiling is moved, theroom height will automatically update. Take the time to assign the room nameand number, even if it’s preliminary. You’ll need this for the schedules thetool produces, since the analysis is primarily based on room properties.

Fix your errors – avoid overlapping elements such as walls,deleted unplaced rooms, and find/fix voids. For example, don’t model your interior walls 8’ tall, if theyshould extend 6” above that 10’ ceiling you just placed. If you build a crappy,half finished model, you’re going to get failures every time – and thisincludes all of the other analysis tools too. You can find your list of modelerrors on the Manage Tab, Inquiry panel – click Warnings, and you will get alist you can export and review.

Speaking of levels – make sure you’re using these correctlyas well. Floor datum levels should not be used to define the height of acountertop – use a workplane instead, or use a level that does not defined astory. This can affect your upper limits on the rooms if you’re setting them tobe bound at the next level – you don’t want 42” tall rooms that match the levelyou added for the countertops.

Leverage the Insight energy model first. This tool is greatfor checking your model and making sure it’s well defined for analysis. Theheating and cooling load tool also includes tools for reviewing the room andspace volumes, as well as each analytical surface for walls, doors, windows,floors, etc. You can review this first before perform any analysis, and get agood idea of how well formed your model is defined.

Make sure you have all of the available updates for Revitinstalled, and the latest build of Insight installed. There have been a lot ofupdates that fix earlier issues, so don’t stick around on Revit 2016 and try todo this – get on 2018.3.1 (the latest build as of this article date for 2018)or 2019, and you should reduce the number of potential errors.

Worse case – you do all of this, and still don’t get theresults you need – start a support case at support.autodesk.com, and make sureyou include this information – your version of Revit, a link to the Revit modeland any linked files.

Thanks – David B.

UPDATE - Autodesk is hosting a series of online classes all about Insight 360 - for more details, follow this link - the sessions are offered on June 14, 2018"


Friday, January 12, 2018

AU 2017 and End of Year Wrap Up…Time’s Flying!

When I started this article, I was just getting back from the Thanksgiving break, and busy pulling out Christmas ornaments. One of the things I’m liking the best is moving AU from after Thanksgiving to before, as it gives me more time to spend with family and friends over the holidays, and not feel so rushed. So this, we took a little pre-vacation, and spend some time in Park City, UT before driving down to Vegas.

If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it. The Waldorf Astoria we stayed in displayed that customer service, done correctly, is what makes a trip like this a memorable experience. The items that don't cost a thing - like remembering guest's name, saying hello in the halls, and making sure everything is perfect for your stay...reminds me that it's the little things found in kindness that makes a difference.

So a couple of personal notes. 2017 was my last for producing training videos for 4D Technologies and CADLearning.com. I really liked working with the crew, and learned a heck of a lot about producing a web-based training program. In my eyes, Dan Dolan and Matt Murphy have the best online training program for Autodesk products out there.  My leaving has more to do with finding the elusive item known as “free time”, as my projects around the house have been piling up lately. Combined with my involvement with the Expert Elite and Directly programs, plus expansion efforts with technology at work, had me working way too many hours, nights and weekends. I’ve also been itching to get back to writing for the blog, as the industry is going through some pretty serious changes now.

On AU 2017. You ever have one of those days where you know you can do better than what you do, and wish you had done things a little different? That’s how I left Vegas this year. Adam Sopko and the AU staff are really starting to push the boundaries of what a tech conference should be, and the additional benefits and features really leave me believing that 3 days (plus a pre-day) aren’t enough. I’m wishing we would go back to a 3 ½ day full event, and get the labs back on Fridays again that would go 3 ½ hours.

Part of that is my own fault. Last year’s Perfecting the System for Revit lab, we were able to cover everything, but this year, I couldn’t get it done, and wanted to apologize to all the attendees. I should have shortened up the first section to focus on the system behavior, but hope that the handouts are detailed enough to fill in the gaps. My other regret was agreeing to take on some new technology for a lab – the attendee interaction tool, Freeman XP Touch. Before you react, I want to point out that I really support this – I like the idea of attendees being able to ask extra questions and poll questions during the class, but the technical hiccups basically amounted to a dry run during the class. The attendees shouldn’t pay the price on the time we’re allowed, so next year, I would encourage the AU staff to plan this out a little better. Two weeks notice on this type of change isn’t enough, even though we had worked the kinks out by the last class.

The other thing that it convinced me to do was to shorten up my presentations. Here’s a note to all speakers – you can put all the detail you want in the handout, but if you’re writing novels like I do, don’t try to present it all. Shorten it up to the key points, and keep the live parts to main areas, without doing too much. I’ve been speaking long enough that I should have known better, and probably would not have stressed out as much as I did this year. I’m also going into self-cap mode – four classes is a little much, and took away from my time to enjoy the event. There’s so much going on, that I really need to get back into more classes myself, especially on the Forge/Quantum side of things.

Back to the event – the AEC keynote was the only one I could attend, but I’m really excited about seeing where my industry is headed. As I look at all the different programs, getting them all to play together in the same sandbox is challenging. I think the best way to simply the concept is to break it down into a couple of ideas.

The data associated with any physical representation of an object – such as dimensional, electrical, mechanical, etc. – is one of the most critical components of a design. Regardless of the delivery of this information, keeping the data in silos – Revit, Inventor, AutoCAD, etc. – is what keeps projects bloated and slow, as well as uncoordinated. Pulling the data out in a cloud database, where the design models can access it directly and without duplication – is a critical step towards true generative design. Just the act of syncing this data across multiple applications that all handle the information differently, is incredibly time consuming. But pulling it out of the modeling program and into its own environment could free up the modeling programs to focus on the design itself, and allow more parts to interact with other.

Generative design represents the next evolution of BIM, and with Quantum on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how 3D modeling evolves. But as an MEP user, it can be tough to quantify, so what would I look for in this realm?

A few features of generative design I would like to see may look like this:

- The MEP geometry should recognize rules on interferences, so they can automatically prompt, or even respond, and reroute, without having to spend excessing time working out alternatives that don’t alter the design criteria of the system, such as air or fluid flow.
- The electrical connector should recognize the available resources, such as panels, and be able to create connection during placement (as opposed to a post-placement editing task), as well as maintain electrical design criteria, without having to depend on spreadsheet and hand-based calculations. For example, the electrical code states what apparent load in VA is translated to for a circuit, based on the horsepower of a pump - adding that table based on rules should be an easy add, rather than through tedious if/then programming in an external text file.
- Control systems in the model should be able to be maintained out to the end user, and integrate with the control software. Water, wastewater treatment, chemical and biological manufacturing and more should be integrated into the BIM environment – and the data related to usage be able to provide feedback in real-time to the designer that needs to make modifications and improvements over the life of the equipment. This requires better integration between Inventor and Revit, eliminating the “conversion” process that’s currently required.

These were just a few of the takeaways I had after listened to the keynote, and talk to other attendees. So what do you look forward to in 2018? Where do you think the future of making things is taking you? In my case…hopefully towards a fish that knows where I am and when to jump on hook…and then fillet itself and season just nicely so.

Overall, AU 2017 was a blast. The Venetian/Palazzo/Sands is a perfect place to hold this event, and the crowds were well served. The exhibit hall this year included a caricature artist - and yes, mine is my new avatar. The special events, where users got to meet with and share ideas with product managers, like Martin Schmid, help give us the sense that Autodesk is keenly interested in your input to help make the products better.

AU is also about connecting with friends, cohorts and like minded geeks. This year's Wednesday night event was a little hectic (way too many people in Tao), nothing beats sitting down with some of my friends and mentors, and catching up. Always great to see these guys - they're the best in the industry, and make AU the great event it is.

Two of my coworkers that attended came back motivated, and loaded with information and ideas that could help them produce higher quality work. It’s great to see younger people (i.e. those a couple of generations removed) really get into the technology that has made my career. This year looks to be promising, so stay tuned…

Happy New Year! David B.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

AU 2017 Proposal Time – and now you can Vote!

I’ve been a speaker at AU for a long time now (well, about 13times) and every year it’s challenging to come up with new and updated topics. Butthis year is a little different – for the first time, you, the user, can votefor the classes you would like to see. So if you have a topic, like learningDynamo for Revit, understanding how to bring Inventor families into Infraworks,or gain a better understanding to make your AutoCAD documentation look andbehave like Revit documentation, then you get to pick until June 16th. It won’tbe the only criteria used to pick a class, but it will be an important one.
So here’s what I’ve ponied up for this year. You can vote by following this link:


Perfecting the System for Revit

Last year’s co-winner of the top lab at AU 2016, this lab set several firsts. It was a first for me as a two time winner from 2011 and 2016, but the key part was how we taught the class. We covered three tracks – duct, pipe and electrical – at the same time, showing the similarities and highlight key points for each system type. The handouts were the most detailed I had written for an AU lab – an overview, one for each track, and a key points document to narrow it down. Here’s the lab description:

“Revit systems help us to define the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design in several ways, but the main purpose is to understand the relationships between system equipment, such as air terminals to air handling units, or from light fixture to panel. This multiple-AU award winning lab will teach you the key steps needed for controlling project system settings, and then demonstrates how to capitalize on (or disable) sizing and analysis tools related to the system. We’ll cover creating the target-source relationship between parts, and then we’ll review using the systems to improve the quality of your documentation. On top of this, you’ll get a project template that already defines everything in the class, so you can take advantage of these topics right away. The class will cover HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), piping, and electrical items, so come and join us for this fast-paced but thorough lab—you’ll be glad you did! This session features Revit MEP and Revit.”

- Learn comprehensive steps for controlling project systemsettings, including mechanical and electrical system project settings
- Learn how to capitalize on the system sizing and analysis tools,and learn how to maximize project performance when you don't need thesefeatures
- Understand how to create the target and source relationshipbetween equipment without routing a duct, pipe, or wire
- Learn how to improve the quality of your construction documentsby capitalizing on system-based features

Managing BIM Projects Without Going CRAZY

This course was featured as a live event a few years back, and wasone of the most watched online sessions for the AU site. Working from a higherlevel, this class is geared more towards the BIM manager and focuses onhigh-impact areas of an implementation. We’ve also added some new features tocover from the 2018 release. With the inclusion of fabrication tools in Revit2018, we step back and learn when and why you would use this content, over thedefault design content that’s already been shipping with Revit.

“This course covers effective practices for project managers,architects, engineers, and designers working on Building Information Modeling(BIM) projects for all areas of architecture, structure and MEP systems. Learnhow AutoCAD and Revit software have altered the traditional design workflowsand processes, and discover how to manage the disruptive changes. The coursewill cover pre-project planning, dealing with project content and understandingwhat tools can really help the project bottom line. We will also review key CADand BIM standards, and where Revit software alters typical project tasks forhigher levels of development. The course is well suited for the first-timemanager and experienced user. If you're ready for an energetic, fast-pacedclass that packs in a lot of information, then sign up early and often!”

- Discover key points for the project execution plans and staffing
- Understand how to clearly define CAD and BIM tasks for a projectand how standardization between both should be approached
- Learn how to migrate third party content and filter essentialdata into a project family
- Examine different levels of development (LOD), and when to usedesign versus fabrication tools

I also added two new classes, including one on AutoCAD that was basedon training demands we’ve had at our firm, Gannett Fleming.

AutoCAD versus Revit - Common Annotation Tips and Tricks

We still have a lot of AutoCAD users, but it’s kind of surprisinghow few of our users have really had any training on AutoCAD. As part of astandards initiative, we discovered how little (and how poorly) many of ourstuff used features such as annotative scaling for text, dimensions and blocks.We also had some attempts at dynamic blocks, but only a handful of userunderstood how to use them, much less make them. So this class was born out ofthe need to create similar workflows and use tools that have the same behaviorin both AutoCAD and Revit.

“When you have a lot of old school and productive AutoCAD users,sometimes it can be tough to get them into the Revit way of thinking. One wayto get these users on board is to help them relate AutoCAD features to Revittools, and learn how these similar tools can increase their productivity. Inthis lesson, we being by learning how annotations such as text and dimensionsare controlled by the scale of the drawing. Next, we review the similarity ofdynamic blocks in AutoCAD and Revit 2D symbol and annotation families. Weexamine how actions and parameters in AutoCAD help the user match Revit familyplacement behavior and features. The session closes by learning how to makeAutoCAD dynamic blocks behave more like Revit family types, using visibilityand lookup tools. If you need more consistency between your AutoCAD drawings,and Revit documentation, come join this old timer to learn some new tricks, andget a cool template to help you get started!”

- Learn how to define AutoCAD annotative Text, Multi-Leaders andDimensions to match Revit annotation types
- Understand basic similarities between AutoCAD dynamic blocks andRevit 2D symbol families
- Review specific dynamic block actions and features that emulateRevit behavior
- Examine how dynamic block visibility and lookup table featuresare similar to Revit family types

Last, but not least…we’ve been working with Autodesk for the pastfew years to gain a better understanding for methods that link drawings andmodels together, and share the data seamlessly between programs. Without goinginto too much detail, the end result is a new product that is now in publicbeta.

Taking Your Data into the Cloud: Introducing the Revit P&IDModeler

“In the design world, it’s not uncommon that key project data isstored in application silos, and requires a great deal of manual coordination.Autodesk has taken the first steps for AEC projects to make data available tomultiple applications at once, by introducing a connected workflow that sharesdata from schematic diagrams with a Revit project. The Revit P&ID Modelerbreaks silos down by letting the user begin with P&ID schematics in AutoCADPlant 3D to create intelligent, data rich diagrams. The schematic data ishosted in the Autodesk 360 cloud and is referenced by Revit project models. The3D model consisting of elements such as piping, equipment, and accessories, isthen developed using information defined in the schematic, such as pipe size,type, valve type, and equipment IDs. As the model is developed, and theschematic iterated, the user receives feedback to help ensure consistency anddesign intent is maintained. Join us to see the next evolution of Autodeskdesign tools.”

- Learn how a process and instrumentation diagram is defined inAutoCAD Plant 3D, and to determine the key data to be shared
- Understand how to define a hub in the Autodesk 360 environment,and how to prepare for sharing this data with other modeling tools
- See how the Revit model is associated with a hub project, andhow the P&ID model interface is defined
- Examine how design data is tracked and coordinated during themodeling process

So that’s my classes in a nutshell – we’re taking some old schoolto the next level, and jumping in early to get a peek into new products thatcan really streamline the design process. Vote early and often – I appreciateit!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Design Review is updated and Back for 2018

A few years ago, we had started to make some major strides getting some of our design office to use the Autodesk Design Review program for markups and presentations for clients. I was a bit disappointed that Autodesk stopped developing it with the 2013 release...or so it would appear.

Now Autodesk has updated the tool and re-released it with the 2018 software that has already begun shipping. You can get your free download here:


Design Review allows you to print sheets, views, models, drawings and more to the DWF format. The program allows you to add markups, which can then be reference back into Revit models, AutoCAD drawings and more, and track/sign off on the changes. It also have sectioning tools that allow you take a peak inside a 3D model without turning layers off.

If you haven't given a try, do it today - with everything moving endlessly towards the cloud, this tool helps you keep some of your system based dignity again.

Have a great day! David B.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thank you again – another Top Speaker award at AU 2016!!!

Man…I can’t tell you how happy and honored I was to find outone of my labs at Autodesk University 2016 (au.autodesk.com) finished in a twoway tie for top speaker. The lab, Perfecting the System for Revit, included myfirst ever perfect score in one category, with an overall rating of 4.79 out of5, based on a minimum number of responses. The class tied with another lab taught by one of my good friends, MikeMassey from Applied Solutions. This was Mike’s first win, and well deserved. He’staught at AU for many years, and now that I’m out of the Autodesk resellerchannel, has been the guy in the Southeast US that I’ve been referring peopleto for years. He provides the same service I used to – training, consulting andprogram optimization, and came up through the Building Design solutions ranksthe same time I did. He was one of the first MEP Implementation CertifiedExperts, a title we both received at the same time when Revit MEP was firstgetting its feet wet.

It’s a tough job to win one of these awards, but the realeffort goes into the prep and planning for the class. The lab this year was thefirst time I taught three sets of discipline tools – duct, pipe and electricalcircuiting – concurrently in a lab. We went through each of the keys areas,focusing on the similarities and differences. The course would up with five –yes, five – handouts, including an overall document that explained thefeatures; three separate lab exercise documents for each track; and an overalltips and tricks document that featured key takeaways.

But I think what made the difference was fixing one of thethings about labs that drove me nuts – and almost got me to where I didn’t want to teach them anymore. For years, we had problems with datasets in the labs – the wrongfiles, users not be able to locate the files, as well not understanding thesoftware well enough to know the difference between the applications (yes, I hadusers a few years ago open AutoCAD MEP in a Revit MEP lab before). We also had users that couldnot keep up due to the lack of familiarity with the software.

To make it easier, it started with Autodesk using aweb-based version of Revit for the labs this year. This made the files openquickly, and kept local users from editing items like the interface andlocation of palettes, etc. Another key step was having the lab datasets storedby lab location and day of the lab, which helped us locate the files easily.But I think what made the biggest difference came from my lab assistants – MattDillon, Matt Stachoni, and Ron Onderko – who went around and opened Revit 2017,opened the dataset project files (2) and made sure they were all already opento the view we needed to start in. When the student came into the lab, everythingwas ready to go, allowing us to focus on the lesson, rather than waiting foreveryone to get where they needed to be. Even a few of the early arrivalspitched in and helped the lab rats get everything open and ready – for that, Ican’t thank you guys enough.

The course included learning how to use Revit softwaresystems help us to define the MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) designin several ways, but the main purpose is to understand the relationshipsbetween system equipment, such as air terminals to air handling units, or fromlight fixture to panel. We taught the users comprehensive steps needed forcontrolling project system settings, and then demonstrated how to capitalize on(or disable) sizing and analysis tools related to the system. We also coveredcreating the target-source relationship between parts, and then how to use thesystems to improve the quality of documentation. Included were project filesbased on a project template that already defines everything in the class, so theuser could take advantage of these topics right away. The class covered HVAC(heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), piping, and electrical items.

AU is already over, but if you want the handouts or datasetsfor the lab, let me know and I’ll send you a link.

And for all the folks that came in, spent 90 minutes andwalked away with a fresh perspective, or learned something new, and showed yourappreciation – I can’t thank you enough. We’ll see you again next year!
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