The Limit of our Ambition

The Limit of Our Ambition (AEC Hackathon)

Dwight Wilson reflects on a weekend at the AEC-Hackathon, and looks into our future….


The limit of our ambition will plot the course for the rest of our lives, just as the limit of the construction industry’s collective ambition will, and has plotted its course so far. How far are we willing to go to improve?

What lengths will we go to to change? Many have turned to BIM and the 2016 level 2 mandate as an answer to years of underperformance, but those who truly appreciate what BIM stands for appreciate that it is the gateway to relinquishing the reins on the industry’s collective ambition.

Never before has technology been applied so aggressively to the industry as is happening now, resulting in the first UK AEC Hackathon sponsored by Autodesk, Innovate UK and Catapult Future Cities. It was a chance for the coming together of teams with different skills who would never work together under normal circumstances; Built environment professionals, programmers and other technology leaders. The passion and ambition was palpable. Some arrived with formed objectives looking for enablers, others with a blue sky idea, ready to challenge the limits of what’s possible, and all in under 48 hours.

The spirit of collaboration was unbridled, teams fluidly formed around similar interests, freely shared ideas between themselves, and leveraged knowledge from one another to make better decisions and innovate. An interesting observation was the distinct absence of passengers in the teams, everybody served a purpose in relation to their skill set. Even though the skill levels varied, all participants were utilised to produce to the best of their ability. Here, at this event, there is a model for construction to adopt, namely do not compensate for those who do not produce but find those who are willing to produce and collaborate with them.

Digital is not influenced by opinion, emotional justifications or social constructs: it operates on truth and fact. Coupling that with individuals whose visions extend beyond the current status quo is the environment hackathon created, and one the industry would be wise to follow. Yes, managing risk is vital for companies, however I can testify as part of team ‘Optioneers’ we proved the feasibility of parts of the BIM Level 3 vision within 48 hours. Imagine if the environment existed to develop these mechanisms for 480 hours within the construction industry. It would not be a stretch to say that construction professionals easily waste that much time in non-productive inefficient practices per year. AEC hackathon was my wake-up call to the possibilities when a vision is married with the skills to fulfil them, and refuelled a philosophy I want to see in our construction industry.

I want to pay a special thanks to my team members over the weekend, Charlie Murray- (@cjmurray00), Jakub Wachocki (@_jakubW), Renee Puusepp (@sliderstudio), Matt Williams and Chris McDonald. We won the prize for best use of open source technology. Links to our presentation can be found below.

In addition to my team members, another special thanks goes out to Paul Doherty (@pauldohertyaia), Simon @ Innovate UK (@SimonLIBP) and Damon Hernandez (@MetaverseOne) for introducing the spirit of AEC hackathon to the UK, and spurring the digital construction community into action.

Dwight Wilson (@dwightxavier)(@bim2050)


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