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Representation Matters in Construction: New Media Library Amplifies Industry Diversity 

Many people can relate to feeling unwelcome in an environment when they don’t see themselves represented. Maybe it’s a television show that only features characters of one race. Or perhaps it’s a membership association that only features leadership of one gender. Sometimes, it isn’t even a matter of feeling unwelcome, but a feeling of being forgotten or ignored. These feelings stem from recognizing that this environment may not be open or accessible.    

Simply put, representation matters. It matters not just in the traditional media but also in the workplace and the construction industry is no exception. We want to encourage good talent to show up and join us. We invest a lot of time and energy in recruitment but if we are not mindful of representation in our marketing and communications, we miss out on the opportunity to attract as much skilled labor as possible to our workforce and we can’t fully address construction’s labor shortage.  

As one step to heighten diversity and representation in the industry, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Autodesk recently launched the Construction Diversity Image Library. Let’s explore how the new initiative and others like it can help advance the entire industry. 

What Is the Construction Diversity Image Library? 

The Construction Diversity Image Library provides a collection of images for use by media to increase visibility and representation in the industry. This library launches with an established series of images featuring a range of diverse people in the construction workforce including women and people of color.   

Autodesk commissioned several photoshoots with AGC member firms to create the initial collection of images. Moving forward, Autodesk will continue to add content to the library. Other companies and associations from the design, engineering, and building industry are invited and encouraged to contribute images. Organizations interested in contributing to the library can do so here. 

The Construction Diversity Image Library is not for commercial use. Only editors and journalists will be able to use the images for media publications. When used in editorial coverage, these images will be credited to the organization that contributed them to the collection. 

How Visual Representation Can Help Address Construction’s Talent Shortage 

In 2019 and 2020, the annual workforce survey by AGC and Autodesk uncovered that 80% of contractors say they are unable to find skilled workers. To meet this demand, we must share stories about our industry that reflect how diverse and inclusive it can be. Whether through media or construction business communications, visual representation is vital to attracting new talent the industry drastically needs.   

Initiatives like the Construction Diversity Image Library help address bias and build inclusivity in the industry by highlighting a range of people from different backgrounds and experiences in a positive fashion. As the Undercover Recruiter organization puts it, “Showcasing diversity within your brand communications is crucial to attracting diverse talent — if they can’t see themselves represented by your brand, they are less likely to look at you as a potential employer.”  

This same organization surveyed 10,000 consumers around the world to study attitudes toward visual representation. Their research found that only 43% of people who feel they have been discriminated against believe they have been well-represented in the media. Even more discouraging is that only 15% say they are well-represented in business communications. 

Still, media has a significant leadership role to play in setting a precedent for industry visual representation. This was a key part of a conversation at Autodesk University 2020 where industry publications, including ENR and Construction Business Owner and AGC member firms, participated in the panel discussion, “How the construction industry and media can work together to attract more diversity.” This panel delivered key learnings about the means of creating content focused on diversity and inclusion, advocating for diverse representation, and remaining intentional about representation in media coverage.  

Recent Diversity-Focused Initiatives in the Construction Industry 

The new Construction Diversity Image Library is just one example of the strides the construction industry is making in encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion. For over the last year, AGC and Autodesk have been working together to address workforce shortages and create a more diverse industry. In 2020, the organizations teamed up to award grants to 21 construction firms to provide over 300 fall protection harnesses designed for women. This project highlights and addresses the need to meet the diverse needs of talent within the industry.  

At the organizational level, many firms are setting ambitious goals to address the talent shortage with diversity in mind. As one example, Laing O’Rourke, the multinational construction company, set a target of employing equal numbers of men and women in its 5,500 global staff by 2033. Laing O’Rourke will also sponsor emerging female leaders and create mandatory inclusivity training programs for senior and hiring managers.   

Although there is still significant work to be done, these initiatives show immense promise for driving more diversity in construction. 

Lend Your Voice to Create a More Inclusive Industry    

We all have a role in creating a better, more inclusive construction industry. If you are looking to join the conversation and lend your voice, learn more by exploring  Autodesk’s Advancing the Industry initiatives for resources, upcoming events, and more. 

The post Representation Matters in Construction: New Media Library Amplifies Industry Diversity  appeared first on Digital Builder.

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Behind the Build: Interview with Henry Nutt III, Preconstruction Executive, Southland Industries

What do many high-performing, innovative, and profitable companies have in common? According to the Society for Human Research Management (SHRM) and McKinsey & Company, they prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). SHRM and McKinsey’s research indicates that companies with high levels of gender and ethnic diversity outperform their peers by 15% and 25%, respectively. These companies also produce a better customer experience and are 158% more likely to understand their target audiences. 

Yet the construction industry still has room to grow when it comes to improving representation. One of the industry leaders who is working to push DEI forward in the industry is Henry Nutt III, a Preconstruction Executive at Southland Industries. In addition to his day job, Henry is also the Chair for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) National Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee. He has served on the committee since its inception, and helps develop initiatives to support, educate, and promote a diverse, inclusive culture for AGC member companies.

AGC and Autodesk recently launched the Construction Diversity Image Library to boost the representation of diversity across the industry. The library is a resource for media, offering a collection of images that feature a range of diverse people in the construction workforce. Editors and journalists can leverage the Construction Diversity Image Library in their publications to showcase diverse talent. 

We recently spoke with Henry about the role the initiatives like the Construction Diversity Image Library play in supporting diversity and inclusion in the industry, his career path, and the importance of meeting new talent where they are. Read his story below.

Tell us about your role at Southland and how you got involved with AGC. 

I’ve worked for Southland Industries for about 14 years. For the first 12 years, I worked as the general superintendent. I was responsible for upwards of 200 people throughout the Bay Area on different projects. My role consisted of hiring primarily the field leadership, monitoring these jobs, and making sure they were working safely, on schedule, etc. 

For the last two years, I’ve primarily transitioned to being a preconstruction executive and working in the business development area. The route I took to get this role was a bit non-traditional. I love having the chance to impact jobs before they start and help win projects that align with our values as a company.

For the last six years or so, I’ve worked with AGC. I started with the Lean Construction Forum Steering Committee and have since switched to serve as the Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Council Steering Committee . 

It’s very exciting working with those who are trying to develop initiatives to help member companies of AGC navigate through their own D&I journey. We come together as a collective to talk about what’s important for that journey, from how you hire to how you navigate putting policies and initiatives into place. 

DEI is so important and it’s always been important. It’s just risen to the level that it’s undeniable what we need to do and what we should be doing. We want to educate people to do the right things and help their people grow in their own companies and in their roles. It’s been very exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling, and I also get to meet a lot of cool people.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented in the construction industry, and what impact did that have on you? 

This question made me stop and think. I’d have to go back to when I was a third-year apprentice around 1990. I remember working for a gentleman who was a journey-level person. He was incredibly skilled with deep knowledge of the trade, and he helped me just be a better mechanic when it comes to being a journeyman. He really took me under his wing, kind of like a son, and really wanted me to get it.

It was the attention that he gave to me and the time he took to make sure I had what I needed to be successful that made a difference. I had no idea what my career path would look like and what challenges I would face. So I think, in part, he was trying to get me ready for those challenges as well. 

Promoting careers in construction is essential to filling workforce and skills gaps in the industry. How can we ensure the breadth of construction careers is showcased to a diverse audience?

It’s important that we can go where they are. In other words, think about schools and different organizations such as pre-apprenticeship programs, youth groups, career days at churches, etc. We have to be strategic, have a plan, and partner with different organizations. I know they’d love to have our folks come in and introduce trades and opportunities to their people. It’s just a matter of going where they are and not expecting them to come to us.

This method has proven to be ineffective, and no longer an exclusive recruitment option for labor organizations. In the past, they could easily count on somebody in your family that knew somebody. That was how you brought different people into the trades. But that approach doesn’t work at the scale we need it to anymore.

Tell me about some of the challenges the construction industry (including the media) face when trying to showcase industry diversity.

Diverse groups are not well represented in the construction industry. In my current role, there weren’t many people that look like me in my position now and my former position. Quite honestly, there were very few people that looked like me at all in the industry. 

The challenge is how do we represent the people of color and women in our industry and motivate people to join when you don’t have a lot of diversity.

There’s not a plethora of us or a group to go to and exemplify that part. When you do find these people, you may end up taxing them to tell the story.  

That’s one of the biggest struggles, and how you communicate with the group is a challenge as well. Everything doesn’t have to be a sad, hard story when it comes to communicating with folks like myself. We’ve also had some really great experiences and met some great people who were allies for us. So there’s also some positivity there and being open to that because everyone’s story isn’t the same. I think the biggest challenge is, again, just being underrepresented. 

What role do initiatives like the Construction Diversity Image Library play in supporting diversity and inclusion in the industry?

It’s a positive affirmation and intentional exposure. It’s about being deliberate around changing the messaging and the imagery and saying, “Hey, we need to do something different.” We’re going to be intentional about putting a group of folks together that represents what we want to see. It’s great to say, “Okay, we know there’s a problem.” Let’s figure out how we can help with creating that. Initiatives like the Construction Diversity Image Library help provide a pathway and the solution to this issue.

To whoever sees these images (whether it’s young people of color or older white men), we’re saying, “Hey, there are folks in this industry that are doing things that are mobile and successful. We can share the challenges and issues we’ve had, but we love what we do and being a part of the industry.” 

We can show a different part of our story, what makes us who we are, and why we want to be a part of this industry.

What are some other significant ways that organizations in the industry can advocate for diversity and inclusion in construction?

One of the biggest things is soliciting partnerships. There are some local organizations that have pre-apprenticeship programs. Some of them are established and have been doing that for years with some success. Others are just trying it out. Partnering with these organizations makes sense because they are trying to advocate for an individual or a group of people that want to enter the industry.

As a union employee, I try to mentor. It’s about the brotherhood or the sisterhood and trying to increase that. It’s about sharing your knowledge with someone coming up the ranks and moving beyond just words and being actionable. It’s an investment for companies to share a day in the life of people in our industry, but there’s ROI there. The return is more than having one or two successful individuals joining a trade; it’s having a group of people join and be successful. 

We can get a lot of folks in the door, but it’s a matter of keeping them in the door. That’s been a struggle. You have to be more intentional about your partnership. We’ve done things like becoming a part of the organization’s interview process. This gives them different sets of eyes and ears listening and talking to these folks. We may notice that the interviewee is going to be successful here, or we may ask questions to help them understand the industry. 

We also offer workshops where people can touch tools and work with the different parts that we work with, whether it’s a pipe or sheet metal. You develop relationships with the new people that come in. We get to connect with people who are hungry to enter the industry and succeed. 

I’ve even had people who are resistant to attending training and apprenticeship events tell me they’ve hired some of their best apprentices from these organizations. These are people who have been in the business for 30 or 40 years. They were transformed by the students, by their tenacity, their hunger, and their wanting to get into the industry. 

It’s just being open to different ideas as well. I think, how do you market to these 24-something-year-old folks? You have to reach them where they’re at, such as social media, and you have to partner.

The post Behind the Build: Interview with Henry Nutt III, Preconstruction Executive, Southland Industries appeared first on Digital Builder.

Autodesk Build Gets 20+ Product Updates, Features, & Enhancements 

Learn About the Latest Releases for Autodesk Build 

Released in early 2021, Autodesk Build continues to prove effective as a reliable project, cost, and field management solution. Seamless collaboration is the name of the game. It better connects teams, data, and workflows across users operating anywhere from the field to the office. Built on the unified Autodesk Construction Cloud platform, Autodesk Build empowers teams to deliver construction projects on time and within budget. 

We’re proud to announce the release of over 20 new updates, features, and enhancements. Whether using our enhanced meeting views to make sure critical action items don’t get missed or creating custom tax calculations, every new update will help improve decision making and save time for you and your team.  

  • Highlighted Releases 
    • Meetings | Enhanced Meeting Views
  • Document Management Releases 
    • Document Management | Custom Attributes in Project Templates
    • Project Lifecycle | Sheet Sharing Across Accounts
  • Cost Releases 
    • Cost | Custom Tax Calculations*
  • Project Management Releases
    • Meetings | Edit Meeting – General Information on Mobile  
    • Meetings | Reorder Meeting Items & Topics*
    • Meetings | Create an Issue from a Meeting*
    • RFIs | Custom Fields
    • RFIs | Embed PDFs in RFI Reports
    • RFIs | RFI Settings – View Closed RFIs
    • RFIs | Project Templates
    • Submittals | Custom Types
  • Field Collaboration Releases 
    • Photos | Autotags for Photos [beta]
    • Photos | Photo Viewing Enhancements [coming soon]
    • Photos | Reverse Referencing
  • Data & Intelligence Releases
    • Data Connector | Reviews Data & Document Management Power BI Template
    • Data Connector | Schedule Daily Refresh
    • Data Connector | Power BI Connector on EU Servers
    • Reports | Report Automation by Company
    • Reports | Issue Status Summary
    • Insights | Additional Partner Cards
  • Project Closeout & Handover Releases 
    • Handover | As Built Export [coming soon]
    • Assets | Submittal Linking
    • Assets | Configuration Data in Project Templates
    • Assets | Activity Log [coming soon]
  • Progress Tracking Beta [coming soon]

*=features in both Autodesk Build & BIM 360  

Highlighted Releases for Autodesk Build 

 Meetings | Enhanced Meeting Views 


Autodesk Build and BIM Collaborate users now have a new, enhanced view of meetings to help better manage and address critical meeting items. In Project Home, users will have a snapshot of open, ongoing and overdue meeting items assigned for the project as well as to them as an individual. In the Meetings tab, users will have two enhanced views. The Meetings view will group all meetings by series, making it easier to manage and track all relevant meetings. The Items view pulls out items from all meetings and allows users to filter by flagged items, status, assignee, and due date, ensuring that critical action items get addressed and resolved. 

Learn more about Enhanced Meeting Views here. 

Document Management Releases 

Document Management | Custom Attributes in Project Templates 

Setting up a common data environment on the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform is now easier and faster with the ability to add file custom attributes to project templates. 

Project Lifecycle | Sheet Sharing Across Accounts 

Autodesk Construction Cloud platform users can how easily share sheets across different accounts. This helps gives teams the ability to share sheets with other external team members, like subcontractors or owners, who need access but are not a part of the main account. Sharing data across the entire project team is a critical part of ISO 19650 compliant workflows, and this release is the start of building out more data and file sharing functionality across the platform. 

Cost Releases 

Cost | Custom Tax Calculations* 


Save time, reduce the risk of error, and have a more accurate view of cashflow with Autodesk Build’s new custom tax calculation feature. This feature allows teams to create multiple tax formulas and easily apply them to contracts, payment applications, and change orders. In addition, the tax information will show in generated cost documentation to comply with requirements.  

Project Management Releases 

Meetings | Edit Meeting – General Information on Mobile 

Autodesk Build users can now edit general meeting information on mobile including meeting title, date, time, and location. Additionally, users will be able to change the meeting status from Agenda to Minutes on their iOS or Android devices through the mobile application. 

Meetings | Reorder Meeting Items & Topics* 

Autodesk Build users can now easily reorder meeting items and topics, making it easy to customize and organize all project information within meetings. 

Meetings | Create an Issue from a Meeting* 

Autodesk Build users can now create an Issue right from a meeting instance. When adding an Issue as a reference to a meeting item, users will have the option to create an Issue, streamlining the process and ensuring that all issues are addressed.   

RFIs | Custom Fields 

On each project, Project Admins can create custom fields for the RFI. To ensure the right information is collected, the custom field can be numeric, text, or a list of values. This allows for greater customization of RFIs and ensures that all critical data is tracked and easily found. 

RFIs | Embed PDFs in RFI Reports 

When exporting RFI reports, Autodesk Build users can embed up to 10 pdf attachments within the report, helping to increase visibility to critical RFI information. 

RFIs | RFI Settings: View Closed RFIs 

On each project, Project Admins can configure RFI settings to provide access for all project team members to view closed RFIs or limit the access to stakeholders involved in the specific RFI. This allows Project Admins to adhere to company and project standards for data visibility. 

RFIs | Project Templates 

Within a project template, Project Admins can now configure RFI permissions, select desired workflow, create custom fields, and set other advanced settings. This makes it easier to set up new projects and adhere to company standards. 

Submittals | Custom Types 

For each project, Autodesk Build users can now add in custom submittal types or remove the preset types that are not required. This ensures all submittal information is correctly classified. 

Field Collaboration Releases 

Photos | Autotags for Photos [beta] 

Autotags for photos is now in beta and visible to all Autodesk Build users. Autotags leverages machine learning to automatically add labels or tags as metadata to photos uploaded to projects. In this initial phase, Autotags is focused primarily on progress photo keywords including rebar, electrical cabinets, ductwork, ceiling framing, and floor finishes to name a few. This feature helps project teams quickly organize, filter, and find critical construction project photos. 

Photos | Photo Viewing Enhancements [coming soon] 

When looking at project photos in the Gallery, users will be able to easily zoom in on a picture, and the photo details will be shown in a more efficient way.    

Photos | Reverse Referencing 

Users often add photo references to forms, assets, or other items. After this release, the reference can be added the other way around as well — directly from a photo. When opening a photo in the gallery, members will have the option to link an existing asset, form, sheet, or submittal. 

Data & Intelligence Releases 

Data Connector | Reviews Data & Document Management Power BI Template* 

Both BIM 360 and Autodesk Construction Cloud platform users can now extract document review data using Data Connector. This release adds to the document management related data extractions, including previously released sheets and transmittal data. This way teams can create custom dashboards in their own BI tools to better optimize document management workflows including driving better review processes.   

Data Connector | Schedule Daily Refresh* 

Both BIM 360 and Autodesk Construction Cloud platform users can now schedule extracts using Data Connector on a daily basis. This allows teams to get new data — refreshed every day — for use in other BI tools to ensure they always have the most up to date information. 

Data Connector | Power BI Connector on EU Servers

Both BIM 360 and Autodesk Construction Cloud platform users can now use the Power BI Connector in both US and EU accounts. Previously the connector early access was available only for US accounts.  

Reports | Report Automation by Company 

Autodesk Construction Cloud platform users can now automatically generate Issue Summary and Issue Detail reports that are specific to individual companies. Prior to this release there was not an easy way to see an overview list of which companies had open issues. Now project leaders can run issue reports and distribute specific reports to each company to better manage issues and improve resolution rates.  

Reports | Issue Status Summary 

A new Issue Status Summary report is now available in BIM 360 and will be coming out shortly for the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform. This new report highlights a list of issues by company and gives an overview of how many are unresolved, overdue, open, answered, closed, etc. This helps teams get better visibility into issue status for each company and promotes resolution. 

Insights | Additional Partner Cards* 

Several new partner cards have been added to the card library in both BIM 360 and Autodesk Construction Cloud platform. The Box, Progess Center, AespadaSitekick, Daqs.io, Join.BuildOneConstructAgileHandover, and Novade partner cards will have their own branded card. The following list of partner cards are accessible through copying and pasting links into the generic partner card; AirtableEmbneusysHoystOpticVyu Construction Camera, and Quickbase. 

Project Closeout and Handover Releases 

Handover | As Built Export [coming soon] 

The As Built Export feature in Autodesk Build improves the handover process by giving teams the ability to easily filter, find and export all relevant as built information including Sheets, RFIs, and Submittals, as well as carrying over any links to other related documents — like files or photos. With the elimination of manual processes used in the past, this feature not only speeds up the handover process, but it also improves the accuracy of handover documentation and increases overall client satisfaction. 

Assets | Submittal Linking 

In Autodesk Build users can now directly link submittals and asset and view submittal details from within the Assets tool. This helps connect data across workflows and allows project teams to easily access relevant information to a particular asset in a timely way.    

Assets | Configuration Data in Project Templates 

Autodesk Build users now have the ability to add asset configurations to a project template. This includes asset categories, status sets, custom attributes, category to custom attribute mapping, and category to status set mapping. With this capability, teams can speed up project start up and standardize asset tracking and commissioning processes. 

Assets | Activity Log [coming soon]

Within the asset flyout panel, Autodesk Build users will now see an option to view an ‘Activity Log’, which shows a list of changes associated to that specific asset. Information includes creation date, changes to attribute values, the user or company that made the change, as well as any additions or removals of references. This activity log will help teams better understand the history of an asset to make more informed and timely decisions. 

Progress Tracking Beta [coming soon] 

Progress Tracking is a new set of features in Autodesk Build enabling users to track installation activities directly on sheets. Tracking accurate work progress data on projects helps to avoid delays and cost overruns. With Progress Tracking markups, teams can see work progress status at a glance, directly on a sheet. And the dashboard provides a comparable and exportable overview of work progress data, which helps teams to see where they can improve their productivity. 

Progress Tracking Beta will be available for Autodesk Build customers starting from the end of July. Project admins will be able to request access to the beta via a pop-up message within the Sheets tab. 

Stay in the Know for More Autodesk Construction Cloud Product Updates  

Learn more about all updates across Autodesk Construction Cloud this month in our blog.

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The post Autodesk Build Gets 20+ Product Updates, Features, & Enhancements  appeared first on Digital Builder.

Digital Builder Ep 17: 3 Key Takeaways on Collaboration Best Practices in Construction

In the AEC industry, it’s not uncommon to have several different companies — sometimes 20 or more — working on the same project. Dozens of people, each with their own priorities and agendas, are involved in decision-making. Because of this, working together can get complicated — even heated, in some cases. 

That’s why communication and collaboration are crucial in AEC. When everyone involved in a project is on the same page, the entire process runs smoothly and you’ll see better outcomes all around. 

On Episode 17 of Digital Builder, Eddie Campbell, COO at ABSI (Accelerated Building Solutions, Inc.) and Tyler Campbell, Vice President, also at ABSI, join us to discuss how construction pros can increase cooperation within projects. They’re also co-hosts of the Construction Brothers Podcast, a show that delivers fresh ideas that industry professionals can use to improve their careers, projects, and people. 

As a construction company that provides modeling and detailing services, Eddie and Tyler often sit ‘down the chain’ in the projects they work on. This gives them a unique perspective on the interactions between stakeholders and how collaboration can be improved.

The topics we touched on include:

  • Ways to improve the bidding process 
  • Effective management styles 
  • Where subcontractors are empowered to improve collaboration 
  • Tips for successfully navigating contract disputes

“The thing that has gotten me out of the most trouble during my career whenever things get heated is going and talking with the other person; looking somebody in the eye is always helpful.” — Tyler Campbell

New Episodes Every Two Weeks

Digital Builder is hosted by me, Eric Thomas. Remember, new episodes of Digital Builder go live every two weeks. You can hear more episodes like this one by subscribing to Digital Builder on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also subscribe to our email list with the form below so you’re the first to hear when new episodes are released: 

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3 Takeaways on Collaboration Best Practices in Construction

Here are three best practices that construction pro’s should consider implementing to ensure smooth communication and collaboration in their projects. 

1. Reduce barriers to accessing important information

Teams that lack easy access to key project info will struggle to articulate their needs due to a lack of confidence in next steps. With risk mitigation as a top priority in any construction project, confidence in decision-making is key. This is why owners should encourage and enable more transparency throughout a project. This is especially important during the design phase. When stakeholders have more visibility into design progress, they can provide meaningful input earlier in the process, which saves time and improves project outcomes.

“After having spoken with a group of owners recently, I think the number one thing that we need to work on as an industry is transparency. That’s one thing that owners desire, particularly in design,” says Eddie. 

To truly open up lines of communication, you need to instill a sense of trust and collaboration. Many construction professionals focus on protecting themselves first when getting into new projects. This needs to shift into a collaborative mindset if teams want more transparency. 

As Tyler puts it, “It’s the [self-first mindset] that has caused us to really have this brokenness in the industry that I see.”

“I feel like the trade aspect of things is that we’re pushing these designers and we’re giving them great tools. But the designers still don’t quite know how a building goes together in a lot of ways,” says Tyler. 

“I think a big push for us is saying, ‘Alright, let’s get passionate about preaching that this is how we build now.’ The only thing that will drive better design is a better understanding of how the systems work.”

What this boils down to that is teams and individuals should help designers and stakeholders understand what truly goes into constructing a building. This is the “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality, and it’s a good one.

2. Leadership should empathize with processes that aren’t working

Empathy and humility go a long way in collaboration. This is especially important when leading by example. By taking time to understand where other stakeholders are coming from, you’ll come up with better solutions on the same timeline, if not faster, and reduce the stress caused by lack of alignment. 

If a process isn’t working, for example, it’s on leaders to recognize and correct the course. 

“Being humble enough to change our processes is something that, I think, we’re going to continue to have to go through over the coming years as we find new ways of delivering projects under these demanding schedules,” says Eddie.

Regular check-ins can also help teams better understand each other and ultimately be more collaborative. In fact, initiating one-on-one conversations with stakeholders can be incredibly valuable. 

As Tyler puts it, “the best teams are the ones that do check-ins. They don’t need to be like, ‘Big meeting, big everything.’ Just pick up the phone and talk to somebody. Ask them how it’s going and what you can help them with. Let them know that you’re there when they need you. It’s not complicated, but slowing down to do that is sometimes pretty hard.”

3. Invite feedback from more people early in the process

Give more contributors a seat at the table. This doesn’t mean making everyone a key stakeholder. Rather, it’s about inviting contributions from others up and down the chain. Doing so will give you a more holistic understanding of what needs to be done.

Getting everyone on board early ensures that stakeholders have a clear idea of project scope, timelines, and deliverables. That group knowledge helps reduce miscommunication and delays down the road. 

“The best projects that I’ve gotten the chance to be a part of had project managers, senior project managers, superintendents that were seeking to understand the problems,” shares Eddie.

According to him, these projects were a refreshing experience because he and his team sit down the chain, and typically don’t get a seat at the table. 

Eddie continues, “Those have been the best experiences for me, where people are invited to the table, and then problems are solved, rather than fended off.”

His sentiment is clear. Whenever project teams invite feedback from more stakeholders, they tend to be more collaborative and effective in achieving their goals.

Listen to the full episode for more AEC insights

In addition to collaboration best practices, we explored other topics with Eddie and Tyler, including how to improve the bidding process and what management styles work best in construction projects. Check out the full episode on your favorite podcast platform. 

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher
  • Google Podcasts 
  • or wherever you listen to podcasts


The post Digital Builder Ep 17: 3 Key Takeaways on Collaboration Best Practices in Construction appeared first on Digital Builder.

3 Avoidable Headaches for Construction Project Managers [Webinar]

Relieve these common GC headaches by getting project teams on the same page.

Being a general contractor (GC) isn’t easy. Your construction project management skills are constantly put to the test. You’re at the center of a network of stakeholders who rely on your coordination alongside thousands—or even millions—of dollars to build the structures and infrastructure that help everyone else live their lives. And you have to do all that within a contracted amount of time with razor-thin profit margins. 

With a role this demanding that evolves in complexity every year, it’s no wonder that processes that have worked well in the past are now routine headaches that every GC in the industry runs into. Some of the top problems GCs face are three documentation processes that, while important for communication and liability, take time away from actually building. 


1. Creating the submittal log 

The submittal log, in short, is a list of all documents that the contractor is required to provide to the design team to ensure that the project is following the spec book. Historically, the process has been to have a project engineer (PE), typically the newest builder, flip through the laid-out specs page-by-page and copy each submittal requirement into a spreadsheet. The project team can then track that submittal log throughout the rest of the project. This not only takes days or weeks for the PE to complete, but human error often results in oversights of important submittals that aren’t included in the log. When PE’s fail to record necessary requirements, they’re unlikely to do them. This puts GC’s in breach of contract, which can lead to costly rework, lawsuits, late delivery, or all three.

The modernized process that the industry is adopting is to use automated software like Pype AutoSpecs for initial submittal log drafting to save time, standardize processes, and mitigate risk. AutoSpecs scans spec books using a patented algorithm designed to identify all submittal requirements, QA/QC requirements, closeout requirements, mock-ups, product data, and a lot more. Project teams can quickly compare previous versions of the specs to the most recently issued version and review all changes, clearly identifying extraneous and redundant requirements. Top GCs are even using AutoSpecs’ built-in filters to review the log and assign custom sections of it to their trades. 

Want to learn more about how AutoSpecs’ automation can save you time, standardize your processes, and mitigate risk across your projects? Join our webinar on November 16th to see it in action.

Register NOW


2. Maintaining a single source of truth 

In an industry as iterative and paper-trail-y as construction, there is inevitably going to be a lot of contractually-obligated paperwork needing to be tracked. Between RFIs, contract documents, progress reports, as-builts, specs, plans, and hundreds more document types that can each contain hundreds of pages, it’s a lot for any project team to keep track of. And when contract compliance relies on following only the most recent documents like plans, specs, change orders, addendums, etc., making sure everyone is on the same page—literally and figuratively—can be the difference between a payday and bankruptcy for a GC. 

Making sure everyone is on the same page—literally and figuratively—can be the difference between a payday and bankruptcy for a GC. 

Most project management software solves for this to some degree, but only Autodesk Build allows access to these documents throughout the entire project lifecycle. Data created in design phase programs such as Navisworks and Revit is stored in the same common data environment (CDE) that the rest of Autodesk Construction Cloud uses, meaning that Build—and any other ACC software—can access this data at any time without having to push it back and forth between different modules.  

All project data is stored in this CDE so that GC teams using Build always have access to the latest, most up-to-date documents to work with. This allows them to do their jobs without having to worry about a new version being published that they weren’t aware of. Autodesk Build maintains the single source of truth for GC teams, regardless of where the project is in the lifecycle. Watch the recorded webinar here.

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3. The turnover package 

It’s a frustrating truth that even if the first 95% of a project goes perfectly, a fumbled turnover experience can leave enough of a bad taste in a client’s mouth that they’ll look elsewhere for a GC on their next project. Why is project turnover messy? Many GCs shift project teams to new projects out of necessity as their current project enters the closeout phase. That leaves the initial project with fewer people that need to shoulder extra responsibility in order to meet their closeout deadline. As a result, the tedious process of contacting subcontractors to request closeout documents and then getting them reviewed often falls to the wayside to make time for more immediate tasks on the new project. That is, until the turnover package becomes an immediate task itself.  

Successful GCs use software like Pype Closeout to automate their closeout document collection process.

Successful GCs use software like Pype Closeout to automate their closeout document collection process. As soon as they have IFC specs, teams can start early by letting Pype Closeout automatically extract closeout requirements from those specs. As the project progresses, Closeout sends customized emails to trade partners as their scope of work gets completed in order to collect documents over time toward substantial completion.  

Not only does Closeout take over a time-consuming task when there’s a myriad of other tasks for project teams to complete, but the end result for the operations team is a manual that can be stored in the cloud—and thus much harder to misplace. To everyone’s benefit, the cloud-based turnover package includes an internally linked table of contents that can be used to instantly jump directly to the documents needed in the moment. This leaves a much better impression on the client, and because GC teams could devote that time to other closeout tasks—like the punch list—they provide a better deliverable overall. Watch the recorded webinar here.

Watch NOW


Work smarter, not harder 

General contractors are responsible for the smooth construction of contracted projects, which means any mistakes, delays, or cost overruns can easily land at their feet and threaten their cash flow. The processes to take on those challenges are constantly evolving as the industry evolves. Forward-thinking GCs are already adopting the technologies they need to stay competitive and not continually fall into these traps. With software like AutoSpecs, Autodesk Build, and Pype Closeout, GCs can give themselves that much more of an edge in an increasingly competitive market.

If you’d like a demo of Pype, please contact us. We’d love to show you how it improves the way you work.

The post 3 Avoidable Headaches for Construction Project Managers [Webinar] appeared first on Digital Builder.

7 Construction Industry Truths Made Clear at Autodesk University

Top takeaways from AU 2021

Every year, Autodesk University (AU) brings industry knowledge to light, leaving construction professionals from across the globe with a wealth of actionable insights. Across our 80+ construction sessions led by a powerhouse of industry leaders and experts, AU2021 revealed some undeniable truths about the future of the industry—and the trends impacting the economics of your business most. All recorded sessions are now available for viewing on the Autodesk University website.

Let’s take a look at the top takeaways from this year’s Autodesk University.

Jump to industry learning:

  1. Great decisions require access to great data
  2. Tight collaboration during preconstruction equals better outcomes
  3. Modern construction cost management relies on connected workflows
  4. Educating and enabling project teams is critical to technology adoption
  5. Diversity is one of construction’s biggest opportunities
  6. Sustainable construction can make good business sense
  7. A change management strategy likely matters more than you think


1. Great decisions require access to great data

According to a recent global report made in partnership between Autodesk and FMI, decision-making based on “bad” data may have impacted upwards of $1.85 trillion in global construction industry costs in 2020. That includes $88.69 billion in rework alone. For a contractor doing $1 billion a year in revenue, this equates to over $7 million in avoidable rework. The report also revealed that data has doubled in the last three years, yet only about half of the survey respondents admitted to having a formal data strategy in place.

The “why” behind having good data is clear—making good decisions to empower better project outcomes and profitability. An excellent example of “how” to leverage good data is covered in the session, Data in the AEC Lifecycle: Using Data to Better Connect AECO Stakeholders.

Image from AU session presentation for “Data in the AEC Lifecycle: Using Data to Better Connect AECO Stakeholders”

This Autodesk University session emphasizes the benefits of correctly using the enormous amount of data available to decision-makers and how to do so with a unified platform. Lauren Collier, Business Leader Project Technology & VDC for SSOE Group, leads this discussion by sharing how her firm is leveraging data in the real world. Sunny Manku, Technical Solutions Executive for Autodesk supports with deeper insight from the technical side. These two leaders in construction technology and digital transformation have over 30 years combined in the construction industry, and share a wealth of knowledge

Key learnings from related AU session

  • How collecting and using data through the lifecycle of a project can help teams stay on schedule and maintain costs
  • The potential value in analyzing data and how you can use it to drive better decision-making
  • The additional infrastructure needs or talent required to be successful in life-cycle data collection & analysis
  • The importance of aggregating data across a connected cloud environment

“If you want to get started today, you can start running insight reports, PDF reports, scheduled exports, for your clients to start consuming that data in a really practical way.” —Lauren Collier, Business Leader Project Technology & VDC, SSOE Group

Watch the full video >


2. Tight collaboration during preconstruction equals better outcomes

For best results on any project, you should have your approach well-sorted before a shovel ever hits the ground. Collaborating early is the best way to avoid costly issues later. Forgive the crassness, but the old adage “proper planning prevents piss poor performance” couldn’t be more true.

Issues in BIM Collaborate
Image from AU session presentation for “BIM Collaborate: Bringing a Distributed Team Together”

In the AU session BIM Collaborate: Bringing the Distributed Team Together, technology leaders Matthew Anderle, Director of Digital Practice and Technology for AECOM, and Katherine Crowley, Project Coordinator for AECOM, walk through a sample project that reveals all the opportunities for collaboration that AECOM leans on to ensure successful project outcomes. They talk through common project workflows and discuss the best approach for migrating your next project to the cloud. They also discuss the differences between BIM Collaborate and BIM Collaborate PRO, its permission-enriched capabilities, and how to manage design collaboration across a distributed team.

Key learnings from related AU session

  • Insights into the enhanced capabilities of BIM Collaborate / BIM Collaborate Pro
  • How to’s for leveraging permissions for document control and security
  • Understanding design collaboration workflows across a distributed team
  • Background into integrated methodologies for tracking changes and model coordination review

“We were early adopters of [sic] BIM Collaborate, which has proven to be instrumental in managing project documentation throughout the project lifecycle. Of particular note is the role [it] played in our move to remote working in response to the pandemic.” —Katherine Crowley, Project Coordinator, AECOM

Watch the full video >


3. Modern construction cost management relies on connected workflows 

When it comes to managing cost activities and subsequent schedule impact, how you connect your financial data to the people who need it should be top priority. That’s why a resilient integration ecosystem is so important for whatever construction platform you’re using.

ERP Integrations with Autodesk Build
Image from AU session presentation for “ERP Integrations for Autodesk Construction Cloud”

In the session, ERP Integrations for Autodesk Construction Cloud, speakers from Autodesk and hh2 Cloud Services come together to speak about integrations between Autodesk Construction Cloud (ACC) software and construction accounting applications. They share which ERPs integrate with Autodesk cost and how to make best use of those integrations.

Key learnings from related AU session

  • Autodesk Construction Cloud’s cost management capabilities and workflows
  • How hh2’s integration between Sage CRE 300 and Autodesk Build works
  • How to integrate Quickbooks Online with Autodesk Build using ACC Connect
  • Workflow guidance on flexible budget structures, contract generation for commitments, collaborative change order workflows, and cash flow forecasting

“Cost management plays a significant role in managing how revenue and costs are accrued on your projects.” —Josh Cheney, Sr. Manager of Strategic Alliances, Autodesk

Watch the full video >


4. Educating and enabling project teams is critical to technology adoption

Implementation of any new solution can be challenging, especially when you are changing the way people have been working for decades. Many see construction as an old-fashioned industry, but the fact that there is so much space for change is what makes it really exciting. Implementing and teaching these skills can be vital to a project’s success.

Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud
Digital transformation flow image from AU session presentation session for “Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud Across a £1.8billion Business”

In the industry talk, Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud Across a £1.8billion Business, Ivana Tudja, BIM and Digital Construction Lead at Mace Group discusses how to introduce and implement Construction Cloud software from Autodesk across your business while inspiring your team to use it. 

Key learnings from related AU session

  • Learn how to develop a strategy for implementing Construction Cloud in your company
  • Identify uses for different BIM 360 modules and the Assemble platform
  • Explain how to use the product to improve coordination and drive efficiencies on-site
  • Learn about training requirements and how to deliver the right training for your users

“You can get everything else right, [but] unless your end users know how to use software, you won’t be able to move forward.” —Ivana Tudja, BIM & Digital construction Lead, Mace Group

Watch the full video >


5. Diversity is one of construction’s biggest opportunities 

Creating a diverse and inclusive environment is something that every company should strive for. In your journey to doing so, you’ll enable new ways of solving old problems, unlock high-value mentorships, retain your best and brightest, ease impact of talent shortages, learn to balance inequities, and encourage unlikely groups to collaborate with impressive results. 

Diversity & Inclusion panel speakers
Panelists: Bruce Orr (top left), Neetha Puthran (top right), Clifton Cole (bottom left), Anton Dybuncio (bottom right)

In the panel Transformational Change Through Diversity and Inclusion, industry leading experts in technology, design and construction share their stories and insights on how diversity and inclusion will drive transformational change for the industry. You’ll walk away with a renewed appreciation for the fact that it’s the variety of expert experience that serves as a pillar to your success. Panelists dive into why diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are important for your business, how diversity and inclusion drives innovative results, and how leadership can play a direct role in cultivating a culture your organization can be proud of.

Key learnings from related AU session

  • Discover how to build an inclusive workplace
  • Learn how to implement strategies to develop a road map for DE&I excellence
  • Learn how to create opportunities for diversity in leadership roles
  • Discover how DE&I can bring transformational change to our industry

“Be supportive, because that will motivate the champions and the people in the organization to keep pushing this through, because it benefits everyone.” —Anton Dybuncio, Co-Founder & COO, VIATechnik

Watch the full video >


6. Sustainable construction can make good business sense

The subject of sustainable construction is an ongoing conversation that every AECO stakeholder should be mindful of. Sustainable construction not only affects costs, waste and carbon emissions, but empowers innovators to shape today’s communities and future generations.

Sustainable construction, Autodesk University
Image from AU session presentation for “Using Technology and Software to Create More-Sustainable Designs”

One industry session of note is Using Technology and Software to Create More-Sustainable Designs. May Winfield, Global Director of Commercial, Legal, and Digital Risks at Buro Happold discusses how implementing processes, documentation, and software can help support more sustainable and environmentally friendly design. She shares lessons Buro Happold has learned regarding how to effectively use technology to achieve these aims.

Key learnings from related AU session

  • Discover the contract terms or documentation that will support and require more-sustainable design, processes, and practices
  • Learn about implementing technology and improved processes that produce more-sustainable design, processes, and practices
  • Learn how to implement internal processes and documentation to improve sustainability in working practices
  • Assess how your organization can successfully implement a more sustainability-focused ethos and design processes

“It’s not just moral aspects that make this important. It also makes business sense. … When [McKinsey] ‘asked 100 senior executives what trends expected to accelerate due to COVID, 53% cited sustainability.’” —May Winfield, Global Director of Commercial, Legal, and Digital Risks, Buro Happold

Watch the full video >


7. A change management strategy likely matters more than you think

In an enlightening industry talk, Successful Digital Transformation Through a Product Management Organization (PdMO), technology experts Dace Campbell and Anna Lee, both from McKinstry, share how PdMO, as a strategic organization, helps to drive digital transformation. 

PdMO, Digital Transformation
Image from AU session presentation for “Successful Digital Transformation Through a Product Management Organization”

You’ll learn how to ensure alignment between the technical road map and business needs while being able to effectively measure the impact of deployed technology. Overall, the PdMO’s framework for innovation to implement new technology on live projects supports digital transformation with minimal business disruption.

Key learnings from related AU session

  • Discover how PdMO enables more agility and adaptability to meet the needs of an evolving market and converging industries
  • Learn how to develop and implement product road maps to prioritize and manage a portfolio of cross-enterprise initiatives
  • Discover best practices for change management to ensure you meet the needs of the business without distracting them
  • Learn about how an industry-agnostic approach enables application of best practices and lessons learned across industries

“Technologists risk pushing emerging [construction] technology into business operations without addressing real world needs, causing an organization to chase shiny pennies that seem attractive at first, but lack buy-in or staying power as a valid long-term solution.” —Dace Campbell, Director of Product Management in Construction, McKinstry

Watch the full video >


Ready for more expert-led education from Autodesk University?

You can check out all the best sessions from Autodesk University 2021 on our website. We’ve only scratched the surface here, but with on-demand sessions and a treasure trove of expert-led education, rest assured you won’t be waiting for progress. You’ll make it.

Explore all of this year’s sessions on the Autodesk University website.

The post 7 Construction Industry Truths Made Clear at Autodesk University appeared first on Digital Builder.

Behind the Build: Interview with Jeff Thomas III, Design/Workflow Technology Lead, AO

“The AO team believes in the mantra ‘better together.’ It’s more than just architecture for us.”

The construction industry is known for its capacity to build, and its very foundation is built on relationships. Industry leaders continuously maximize the value of long-lasting relationships, particularly in partnerships, to improve business outcomes, secure more projects, and foster greater collaboration. 

Jeff Thomas III, Design/Workflow Technology Lead with leading architecture and design firm AO, understands how vital relationships are to advancing innovation and productivity in construction. We recently spoke to Jeff about his career in design and workflow technology, the evolution of the industry, how to handle relational challenges, and more. We encourage you to learn from his approach by reading his story below. 

Tell us a little bit about AO and what you specialize in.

AO is a full service architectural, master planning and design firm specializing in retail, residential and mixed-use projects. We’re based in Orange, California, with additional locations in Atlanta, Solana Beach, and Sunnyvale. We have expertise in interiors, multi-family, retail, hospitality, restaurant, mixed-use, office, and industrial parking. 

In addition to architecture, the AO team believes in the mantra “better together.” It’s more than just architecture for us. AO believes in the power of relationships. Everything we do is motivated by what it takes to be effective and successful for our clients. So we are indeed better together. 

As for my role, I’m an analytics junkie, which is weird for a designer. I’ve always related to an African proverb, “Ubuntu”, which means, “I am who I am because you are who you are.” When coming to AO about a year and a half ago now, it just lined up with my belief and their beliefs. 

Walk us through your career and what led you to become a Design/Workflow Technology Lead. 

In junior high, I used to paint fire escapes for my uncle who was a general contractor.  He would always tell me, “You don’t want to do physical labor. You want to be the one designing the buildings because they make more money.” That was always his thing. 

I got my degree in industrial design, not architecture.  I was working for an architectural firm in Colton, California, when I got my degree, and the architect gave me a promotion. I’ve been in the industry for 22 years now.

I’ve always been intrigued by architecture, but what I’ve found out over the years is that it was the creative problem-solving that really did it for me.

I’m less proud of the physical buildings I’ve helped create than I am of assisting my colleagues in coming to that “aha!” moment. -Jeff Thomas III, AO

It’s about the ability to find creative solutions to things that most people overlook and bring other people along for the ride. Using design, technology, workflow, processes, and guidelines help feed that for me.

As construction evolves, how do you see your role changing?

I see it being more collaborative. I also see other industries merging or converging into our industry. For example, the AEC space with the medical industry or even the internet of things.

As these developments become more prevalent and more cost-effective, I see that being the status quo. Eventually, every home will be a smart home because it’s just expected. I know a pastor who said, “What one generation does in moderation, the next does with reckless abandonment.” When you look at the internet of things, right now it’s done in moderation, but at some point, it’s just going to be done with reckless abandonment. I don’t mean this in a negative context, of course. The phrase resonated with me. 

What project are you most proud of working on in your career?

I like to believe my career is unique. I’ve done everything from residential to telecommunications to retail, and even storage facilities. I’m less proud of the physical buildings I’ve helped create than I am of assisting my colleagues in coming to that “aha!” moment. That’s what took me away from doing architecture to supporting architecture.

If I had to pick a single project, I’d choose Baker’s Burger, which is a fast food restaurant in the Inland Empire. I did a number of them. I see the location off of Waterman Avenue every single Sunday on my way to church. That was done more than 20 years ago. So I get to look at this building that I worked on when I was really just starting out as a young designer, and here it is 20 years later still being used. I was also fortunate enough to work with a great team that I’m still friends with today.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?

The biggest challenges for me are not technological challenges. They’re relational challenges. 

Every person is different, and sometimes building relationships with people will force you out of your comfort zone. Everyday I spend time outside my comfort zone. I believe it has helped me grow in terms of being able to relate to people and understand people. I try my best to be compassionate and understanding. 

I’ve always related to an African proverb, “Ubuntu”, which means, “I am who I am because you are who you are.” -Jeff Thomas III, AO

As for handling relational challenges, I do tell myself that I might be wrong and it forces me to listen to other people more or better. It causes me to have to hear what they’re saying, even beyond the frustration. 

The beauty of having worked in architecture, and now being on the support side, is that I understand the frustrations. I understand what it’s like when technology doesn’t work the way that it should or the way you expect it to. I understand what it’s like to have the pressure of a deadline. I understand what it’s like to not have enough time to get things done, but somehow you manage to figure it out. Even in all that, there’s still a need to learn new things because technology moves so quickly. What I’m trying to do in my role is to be that person for them so that they don’t have to take the extra time. I’ll take the extra time.

When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at AO? 

Automation is a word that just keeps coming up for me. With tools like Dynamo, Forge, Autodesk Construction Cloud, and BIM Collaborate Pro becoming more prevalent, automation’s the thing. If we can automate all of the monotonous things within the process and workflow in architecture, then the architect can focus on architecture. They can focus on the business of doing architecture and less on technology. That’s where I’d like to take us in the near future.

On the topic of productivity, one of the nice things about PlanGrid is that it’s just easy to use. On the design technology side, I’m also responsible for the workflow part of things. The learning curve is a big concern when you’ve got a group of people who are limited on time, and then you have to pull them away from work for multiple hours; that’s near impossible. But if you could pull them away for five, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes at a time, that would make learning new technology much more manageable. 

PlanGrid is so intuitive that I only have to teach people one feature at a time. That’s one of the challenges I think with a lot of the other construction tools that exist, because they come from the perspective of the contractor as opposed to the architect. I never felt this way about PlanGrid.

What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women entering and preparing for the future of the industry?

Be teachable. Don’t stress. Practice thinking differently; That’s something people can learn. Relentlessly pursue better.

The post Behind the Build: Interview with Jeff Thomas III, Design/Workflow Technology Lead, AO appeared first on Digital Builder.

Nominations Now Open: 40 Under 40: Construction Champions of 2021

Submit a Nomination by September 17

The people working in AEC truly are the backbone of our industry. This was made abundantly clear by the events of last year, as well as the first half of 2021. The construction industry has gone through incredible change, and we’ve come out stronger than ever because of the creativity, innovation, and hard work of construction professionals all over the world.

Here at Autodesk, we’re honored to celebrate and spotlight the innovators and changemakers helping to advance the AEC industry. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that nominations are now open for the fourth annual 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction!

From August 17 to September 17, we encourage you to nominate AEC professionals who you believe have made a tremendous impact on the industry. Forty nominees will then be selected and included in Autodesk’s 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction list. 


Who to Nominate: 40 Under 40 Nomination Criteria

Autodesk’s 40 Under 40 will be a list of shining (and rising) stars in the industry. It will recognize construction professionals under the age of 40 who are making waves in the AEC field for their creativity, forward-thinking, and dedication, particularly over the last several months.

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Someone who has made a big impact in their role in 2021. 
  • A professional who has demonstrated exceptional leadership. 
  • An industry pioneer who has implemented or managed technology with a major impact on a project and their company. 

Got someone in mind? Be sure to hit that nominate button on or before the 17th of September!

Please note that a panel of unbiased experts review hundreds of nominations every year for 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction. Every nomination is carefully reviewed against the program criteria, however, only 40 of the most exceptional nominations will be chosen.


When Will the 40 Under 40 Winners Be Announced?

The list will be announced before the end of the year, so keep an eye out in your email. Better yet, subscribe to the Autodesk blog to get alerted about news and updates. 

A Look at Previous Winners

Whoever makes it to this year’s list will be in great company! The 40 Under 40 alumni have done — and are continuing to do — some amazing things to take the industry to new heights. Have a look below. 

  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2018

Your relatives, colleagues, and even yourself could be a part of this year’s list, so get those nominations in while you have time!

And be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any updates on this year’s 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction list.

We love reading the stories in every submission and can’t wait to see who you nominate!


The post Nominations Now Open: 40 Under 40: Construction Champions of 2021 appeared first on Digital Builder.

Did you miss our previous article…

Behind the Build: Interview with Jacob Freitas, Senior Project Manager, Level 10 Construction

Find the people that are going to support you, help answer questions, and mentor you. Those are the teams you want to be on and the type of team you want to build.

To see the greatest results from technical solutions, you’ll need to get all users and stakeholders on board. While there are many factors that play into successful technology adoption, there’s one component that every initiative must have: a fearless champion. Enthusiastic, committed champions help drive the buy-in you need from stakeholders while getting support from the people who will use the new technology. Building internal advocacy ensures full-scale adoption. 

As a Senior Project Manager, Jacob Freitas is one of those fearless champions, pushing innovation and productivity forward at Level 10 Construction. We recently spoke with Jacob about his experience with planning and construction, how the project manager role is evolving, and how Level 10 leverages technology to solve challenges. Read his story below.

Tell us a little bit about Level 10 and what you specialize in.

We’re headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with a few more offices in San Francisco, San Diego, and Austin, Texas. Level 10 Construction was actually founded in 2011 by industry veterans with this shared vision of delivering construction projects at the highest level. And we’ve been able to deliver successful projects across several market sectors thanks to our different regional offices. Our projects have run the gambit—advanced technology, corporate, education, housing & mixed use, biotechnology, entertainment, healthcare and gaming & hospitality.

Walk us through your career. What led you to become Senior Project Manager?

I started back at Cal Poly in the summer of 2005 studying city-regional planning. My first summer after Cal Poly, I had an internship with a home builder, which was when I realized I wanted to go into construction. 

So, I pursued internships in the field and worked with Rudolph and Sletten for six months doing co-op. That was all around 2008 when the economic downturn happened and new construction opportunities dried up. I ended up getting more work experience related to my planning background. From 2009 to 2011 I worked on energy management and greenhouse gas mitigation for Mazzetti, an engineering firm out of San Francisco.

A lot of what I focused on during those three years were energy-related projects such as efficiency upgrades, solar installation and fuel cells. The primary client I supported was Kaiser Permanente, with the goal of reducing their environmental footprint, primarily focused on the greenhouse gas emissions associated from their facility operations. 

In 2011, a former boss of mine reached out to me to see if I was still interested in the construction space. This November will be nine years for me here at Level 10 Construction.

As construction evolves, how do you see the role of Project Manager changing?

Today, I see a lot of the same mistakes being repeated, and it’s due to a lack of knowledge sharing. Hopefully, in the next decade, sharing lessons learned will become easier with the advent of new technology. 

Looking forward, I’m excited to see how our industry shares information, not only internally in organizations but peer-to-peer, and how we can try to be more effective at it.

In terms of existing work products, I want to leverage that existing work product. I don’t want to reinvent the bid package or the spec section or this or that detail. There’s no reason to reinvent it if it’s already been figured out; however, many times it comes down to not knowing where that information resides. 

Looking forward, I’m excited to see how our industry shares information, not only internally in organizations but peer-to-peer, and how we can try to be more effective at it.

What project are you most proud of working on in your career?

I would say the Facebook west campus job we worked on from 2012 to 2014. At that time, we were still relatively small as an organization. That was around a $400 million project. As a senior engineer, I was managing all the MEPF trades, which was a $100 million dollar scope. That project felt like the equivalent of two or three projects rolled into one, and we delivered. 

The project was super cool, especially considering its size, scope, and complexity. That’s part of the reason I’m here doing what I’m doing today is because of that experience. Not everyone has the opportunity to manage mechanical, electrical, plumbing, food service, fire protection trades early in their careers. The project allowed me to advance faster.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? How does technology help you meet these challenges?

Having a centralized platform that the whole team can be on. That has always been a challenge. Recently there’s been a number of platforms that check that box.

Autodesk Build is taking the right approach with getting the whole project on board. I think that model is what we’ll continue to see moving forward. 

At Level 10, we also don’t print many drawing updates anymore. The only drawing sets we have are pretty much just the permit sets. It’s key to have the most recent version of all the information on hand, whether it’s an RFI or submittal or drawing. I can carry it around on my iPad and in my safety vest.

You just couldn’t do that 20 years ago, right? Instead, everyone would just be working with incomplete information. Now, one person can basically manage to keep the whole set current for the entire team—for 100 or 200 people. 

The concept of reality capture from 360 video walks has also become really beneficial. Companies like OpenSpace, StructionSite, and DroneDeploy allow users to quickly capture current site conditions and share project information with various stakeholders for coordination. Think Google Street View for the jobsite. 

Aside from just doing reality capture, some of these companies use photogrammetry to create 3D models of the site conditions. These can be used for things like soil stockpile quantity tracking and, more recently with OpenSpace, progress tracking of TI trades such as framing and drywalls. At a high level, eventually, you’ll be able to walk through the project and capture 360 video then upload it. The software will take that walk-through video and generate a point cloud, which is a geometrically accurate digital version of the built environment you’re looking at in real life. That point cloud then gets compared to your BIM models and schedule. This will give you percent complete by trade, trade-specific scope items, and how the completion of those items are tracking against the project schedule. That’s something that’s always hard to do on larger projects.

When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at Level 10? 

Internally, everyone’s definitely supportive of these things, but part of it is my own internal quest to be better at things because I see it could be better. The owners of our company are all very knowledgeable, and they’ve been doing this for 30, 40 or more years. So, sometimes it’s scary to face questions like, “We’re going to do what? How? We never did it like that. How are you going to do this?” 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I constantly ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be the idiot in the room. Raise your hand…understand why you’re doing things. Don’t just do things because someone told you to.

Right now we’re tracking layout with a Dusty Robotics Field Printer robot, using all of our coordinated BIM models and shop drawings. The framers are going to do a Level of Detail (LOD) 350 model in Revit and coordinate with all the MEPs. The grand plan is to export all that information into a single layout file. Each trade will still be responsible for their own layouts, but the bulk of the layout will be exported by trade, given to Dusty, consolidated into a single layout file and multi-trade layout completed through Dusty Robotics Field Printer. 

For example, rough openings in walls, bottom track locations, drops for lights, etc., you stack it all in the system and it lays it out. Some of the framers are already enjoying it and some of the MEPs are already seeing the value in it. It should greatly improve the speed at which a project can complete layout and provide additional opportunities to spot problems before things are built out. We had a demo of it out in the field and it seemed effective.

What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women entering and preparing for the future of the industry?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I constantly ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be the idiot in the room. Raise your hand and ask questions a lot. You need to understand why you’re doing things. Don’t just do things because someone told you to do them. Figure out why you’re doing it because there’s usually a reason why you’re doing it. If you don’t understand the “why”, it’s not going to click a lot of times. That’s true with anything in life, but you have to ask questions and figure it out. Find the people that are going to support you, help answer those questions, and mentor you. Those are the teams you want to be on and the type of team you want to build.

The post Behind the Build: Interview with Jacob Freitas, Senior Project Manager, Level 10 Construction appeared first on Digital Builder.

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Top Career Tips from Last Year’s 40 Under 40 Winners

What does it take to have a successful career in construction?

While everyone’s professional journey is different, it helps to learn from those with well-established careers, so you can discover the lessons that brought them to the top of their game.

That’s exactly what we’re doing here. We asked last year’s 40 Under 40 winners, a.k.a. Champions of Construction, to share their best career advice, along with the most important lessons they’ve learned from 2020, and what excites them about the construction industry.

As some of the most passionate and forward-thinking people in construction, the group shares hard-earned learnings that you can put into action in your own career right away.

Have a look at what they have to say below. It’s an inspiring read.

If you know anyone in construction that is an absolute AEC allstar, and belongs on this year’s 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction list, nominate them today! Nominations are open August 17 through September 17.


1. What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

In many cases, the best career nuggets are intangible. Instead of a quick tip, the most insightful advice often serves as a north star that guides your career decisions and ensures that you don’t stray too far from your values.

Do what you love and what’s best for you

Many of 2020’s Champions of Constructions agree that succeeding in your field starts with knowing what you love and what’s best for you. 

As Ivana Tudja, Senior BIM Manager at Mace Group puts it, “Remember one thing, you’re the only person who knows what the right thing for you is.”

In line with this, it’s important to know what you’re passionate about, so you can develop your career around that. 

“Do something that you love,” says Kristy Hogg, Technical BIM Lead at Cundall. “Because if you enjoy it, you’re going to be interested in it.”

Learn to collaborate well with others

Teamwork and collaboration are essential to construction success. If you want to go far in your AEC career, it’s important to be open to other people’s ideas and constantly learn from each other.

“A huge part of continual creativity and dedication on-site is understanding that everyone has a voice and input worth hearing; it’s not just the construction manager reigning down orders,” says Geoffrey Bean, Virtual Construction Coordinator at W.M. Jordan Company.

He continues, “When it comes to ideas, there is no such thing as a bad one. It’s about letting suggestions be heard. It’s about letting every single person on every single one of our job sites know that they matter and that we care.”

Carolina Alvarez, President of J&S Building Maintenance, Inc., offers similar advice and says that working closely with the team is a must to succeed at work. “The first thing is recognizing that we’re a team and communicating with each other,” she says. 

“What do we need to do? What ideas do you have? What’s going to make you feel safe to start with? You need to ask those questions. Talk to your staff, see where they’re at, and accommodate their needs if necessary,” adds Carolina. 

2. What are the top lessons you learned from 2020?

The most powerful lessons are the ones that you earn not just by reading, but actually living through them. 2020 was a difficult period, but it was a massive year for career growth, particularly for construction professionals who kept their heads up and persevered. 

“Patience and hope were my biggest takeaways [in 2020],” says Hritik Kothari, Project Engineering Intern at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He adds that he’ll proudly take these values further in the years to come. 

Focus on things you can control

If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that there are many factors outside of our control. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything. 

Lazar Vilimonovic, Electrical Design Engineer at Tesla said it best: “The biggest thing is that you can’t dwell on a lot of the things you can’t control.”

So much can change in a short amount of time, and the number one thing you can do is to continuously show up. “I know I need to keep moving forward, do the things I need to do, and go from there,” adds Lazar.

Always have a plan

The events of last year caught many people off guard, and 2020 taught us the importance of having “a more thorough emergency plan,” remarks Carolina. 

“Your emergency plan shouldn’t just be ‘Oh what if the internet went out.’ That may have worked pre-2020, but if a pandemic or something similar happens again, you need to be prepared. Your business plan needs to expand to other types of emergencies and what to do in case of that, because who knows what will happen again?”

3. What excites you the most about the future of construction?

The future of the construction industry is bright, and now is one of the most exciting times to build a career in AEC. 

Groundbreaking developments in technology

Technologies like AI, machine learning, robotics, and others are transforming various industries, and construction is no exception. Because of this, construction professionals are able to streamline cumbersome processes and focus on bigger and more exciting things. 

That being said, successfully implementing technology starts with investing in the right tools. As Samiha Shakil, Senior VDC Engineer at Skanska points out, “When you invest in the right tech, you’re also investing in the people you employ.” 

She continues, “There are many people with tons of potential, and we need to make sure they’re equipped with tools that improve their work processes, help deliver quality projects and empower them to be better professionals all around.”

Integrating different technologies is also something that construction professionals should focus on. “Taking advantage of what 2020 has taught us — construction professionals and firms, should invest more in R&D of integration of new technologies,” says Ruhi Thakur, Assistant Project Manager at Webcor.

Younger people are entering the industry

It’s not just about technology though. Construction continues to be a people-driven field, and the next generation of professionals entering the workforce will brighten up the industry even more. 

Jessica Bowlin, Building Construction Instructor at Auburn High School, says that the “up and coming workforce — the Gen Zs” is what she finds most exciting about construction. 

She says, “They’re going to take us so much further than we ever thought possible.”

These are just a few nuggets of wisdom shared by Autodesk’s 40 Under 40 Champions of Construction. To see last year’s full list of 40 Under 40 winners, click here.

Know someone perfect for 2021’s 40 Under 40 List?

Nominations open: August 17, 2021 to September 17, 2021

Autodesk’s 40 Under 40 will be a list of shining (and rising) stars in the industry. It will recognize construction professionals under the age of 40 who are making waves in the AEC field for their creativity, forward-thinking, and dedication, particularly over the last few months. 

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Someone who has made a big impact in their role in 2021. 
  • A professional who has demonstrated exceptional leadership. 
  • An industry pioneer who has implemented or managed technology with a major impact on a project and their company. 

Have someone in mind? Be sure to hit the nominate button on or before the 17th of September!



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