For the second year in a row, the Hackathon date moved due to a hurricane. Hurricanes are symbolic of the rapidly approaching storm of how disruptive technologies are sure to knock down long-standing ideas of the AEC industry. AEC refers to (Architectural, Engineering, Construction) and sometimes AECO, adding Owners to the acronym.
Change, like hurricanes, create VUCA. VUCA is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. In the Army's War College & Harvard business school VUCA is used to describe general conditions and state from which to make decisions. There are a few in the building design and construction industry aware that disruptive technology will shortly or is currently increasing VUCA. Firms like our sponsors are preparing for the adoption of disruptive technologies and methods. The Hackathon is a simulation of possible future workplaces. Technical skills combined with adaptive process controls allow for the development of virtual design and construction at speeds thought impossible by some.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to see all these interdisciplinary teams working together. The teams came together in a way that really showcased their ability to overcome adversity under pressure and we were very excited to see these impressive solutions.”-Frank Calas VDC Engineer
Consider the speed of change for Kenneth Stanley (above) and how a few months changed every thing. Stanley, Design Technology Orlando's first-ever speaker and then UCF associate professor of computer science, discussed his research. For more read his book "Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective." He used the tool www.picbreeder.org to demonstrate his ideas that programming goals into an application are flawed and that an evolving framework is more likely to provide improvement and original designs. Kenneth spoke of his new research, an evolutionary artificial intelligence that he described as "unknown" and "not so sexy." Three months later, Stanley's UCF startup Geometric Intelligence was bought by the Uber ride-sharing giant. The disruptive technology made it the highest-valued private tech company in the world, with a valuation of around $70 billion. This new technology, like many others, went unnoticed by most while changing the world relatively quickly. Changes like these create Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity regarding how technology and narrow artificial intelligence tools will impact business in the building design and construction industry.
The Hackathon is evolving to meet the needs of those in the AEC industry trying to prepare, anticipate, and intervene by building its community focused on disruptive technologies and control processes. Currently, the center of attention is on the use of computational and generative design in a collaborative, fast-paced fluid environment to design buildings as well as create blueprints for construction.
Some say they do not see anyone doing this. "This will not be a viable option for many years, maybe ten or more." These are common criticisms. Conversely, those like our sponsors feel that it is not just viable but is or will soon provide them with a competitive advantage. Those who have made the leap and are pursuing these advantages are not only smart but also strategic. The military crest is a term in military science that refers to an area just below the top of a hill or ridge, preventing observation from the opposing side. The military crest is to have taken the dominate location without giving away one's position until the last possible moment. The sponsors of the Hackathon are "taking the hill quietly."
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein
DTO is using several new ideas. More than buzz words, DTO is biased towards action and willing to fail quickly to provide the critical feedback needed to improve. One obvious disruptive idea is the use of a long-known concept form computer programming, the Hackathon. Hack-athon is a compound word joining the terms Hacking + Marathon. The meaning of which is a long (marathon) hacking session. Hacking in movies is, trying to gain access to restricted computer systems. DTO similarly aims to Hack (exploit) not so popular computer software tools and systems like GPUs, to the benefit of improving the AEC's ability to design and construct buildings. We are also introducing computer programming skills to free the process and data from proprietary systems. Computer programming removes the limits of standard user interfaces created for the one size fits all general public. Other ideas include elements outside of technology like behavioral science, industrial engineering of processes, and experience-based economics.
We made many small but essential improvements this year. Keeping with the theme of change, we changed the venue from Florida Polytechnical University in Lakeland to Valencia College in Orlando. This based on feedback indicating that Lakeland was too long of a drive, resulting in lower attendance. The move to Orlando would have had a significant impact on the event if not for being rescheduled on short notice.
Universities and colleges as venues also have been a component of change. Educational institutions are quickly confused initially by Architecture and Engineering students attending an event centered so heavily around programming. The same was true of computer science students unsure how they fit into the world of building design and construction. However, with a chance to present the event, we were able to convince the Universities and Colleges to allow us to move forward.
Change is not easy and is often slow. Moving existing AEC professionals in the best implementation of change takes approximately six years on average. With students or soon to be professionals, it could take as little as four years. With this approach also comes the possibility that we can affect real change concerning the higher education curriculum. Building a massive infrastructure project is costly and time-consuming, so it must yield a return on investment consistently once operational. Likewise, we are building a pipeline of local candidates to fill the roles of this new AEC industry.
Design Technology Orlando recognizes there are "many" experts in computational and generative design today. However, they are scarce enough that without more of them, the change will continue to be slow. They are, in almost every case, a lone wolf in their respective organizations. Lone wolfs being alone is no doubt the reason for the slow adoption and forward progression we have seen in the past. We envision a world where exponential improvement is possible, with the rise of these new ideas becoming commonplace among graduating students and young professionals.
As students and professionals arrived, the Eventbrite APP for tickets made checking in faster and easier. A few still used printed tickets instead of the APP and QR code, but it was a small win to start the day. Attendees then found their custom lanyards with sponsor logos and branded name badges. A significant improvement from last year's basic lanyard and badges. Again, perhaps not significant to many but another improvement for our growing community.
Not wanting to waste precious development time, sponsors quickly went over the project requirements. The rescheduling of the event shortened the hacking time to less than twelve hours. Twelve hours for the uninitiated is a small amount of time to get an application built and running. Just before eleven am, the teams were told to start.
Quickly there was a desire by some participants to try and organize teams and balance skills. There was a desire by a few to get the help of those with solid programming skills. An important note to future participants is to try and assemble a team before the event as it can provide a significant advantage.
Just as things settled and the task began, Panera Bread delivered lunch. There was little time to sit and visit while eating. This was a working lunch.
A new addition this year was the use of the Kanban board. There was a column of cards for each team that contained the required task. The board had a column for Q&A. The Q&A was a lesson learned at the first event where questions were asked and answered multiple times. The Public Q&A allowed all to have equal information.
Another exciting new idea this year is the introduction of Industrial engineering student Matthew Crudo. Matthew interviewed teams and took notes. This idea of having industrial engineering at the event came when tabling on the UCF campus, and Paul Stuckey stopped by. Industrial engineers are often tasked with finding ways to reduce waste in systems. The goal was to monitor the event and take data. This would provide the information to onboard additional industrial engineering students for the next event. Sometime before the next event, these students will engineer the system by which a future hackathon team will work as a team to meet the goals of the event. This is beneficial for a team formed at the event where leadership can be a hard thing to figure out among strangers (case in point, the TV show Survivor). As a freshman, Matthew Crudo, as well as others, can participate yearly, continuing to take data while building needed information and case studies for a possible thesis later.
Without warning, the day had passed, and dinner arrived signaling there was little time left to pull individual parts together into a whole. Not long after, it was 10 pm. All the sponsors moved about the room from team to team watching teams present their programming creations and reviewing their website documentation of the project. After all the projects were seen, the sponsors huddled outside the event center room in the hallway. With more protracted than expected deliberation, a winner was chosen. $5,000.00 cash in hand all gathered around the front of the room. A few closing remarks made, and a purposely long pause Florida Polytechnic University team was announced as the winner. Excitement among the team erupted.
However, wait, there is more. Finally, Tyler Hajdu of Assa Abloy had an Amazon dot, a prize for the overall event MVP. Seth Bout UCF AIAS President. The Team and event MVP is a new thing intended to spotlight individuals for possible internships by the sponsors. The team MVP is publicly chosen by there team members. This provides possible insight that may not be seen by sponsors who are not always present while working the room.
Below are the Websites documenting the teams and their projects. to view them simply click on the Link
Thank you to our sponsors. None of this would be possible without their support.
-Baker Barrios Architects
-TLC Engineering Solutions
-Walter P. Moore
-The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Thank you to the following people.
Andrew Ray, Program Chair for Valencia's Built Environment, has been a driving force for change in higher education. He achieved a Florida Board of Education approval to add Dynamo to the College's curriculum. Dynamo is a visual programming tool. Andy also sponsored the event by helping us meet the requirement to have Valencia faculty at the event the entire time. Andy arrived before 7 am and did not leave till midnight. Additionally, he kept the coolers full of drinks and handled almost all the cleanup efforts alone. c
Jerry Reed, Professor of Computer Programming at Valencia, also attended most of the day to provide valuable python programming support to those in need. Thank you, Jerry Reed!
Allen Watters, Program Chair of Architecture at Valencia & UCF was instrumental in approving the event and help organize. Thank you, Allen Watters.
Paul Wilder, Dean of Engineering, Computer Programming, and Technology at Valencia College. Paul laid the groundwork for future Valencia students to join the event. Thank you, Paul Wilder.
Kelley Matlock, the Implementation Coordinator at Valencia, made sure the event space had tables, chairs, wifi, and air-conditioning. Thank you, Kelley Matlock.
Sam Leo, a BIM Technologist for TLC Engineering Solutions, has been a constant in this journey. Sam is at all the DTO monthly meeting. He also brought much-needed power strips allowing teams to get power, helped with setup, and tear down. Thank you, Sam Leo.
Frank Calas, a VDC Engineer for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, helped plan and host the first event as a senior at FL. Poly Tech. University. This led to his current role with Whiting-turner. Back this year, he added planning, construction, and programming experience to the event.
Eli Pla, a computer Programmer for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, was in attendance. He shared his experience winning the first DTO Hackathon and making himself available for programming help.
Joe Ales, Senior Principal at Walter P. Moore Structural Engineering, provided the events structural requirements and presented examples of these with slides and video created by Steve Smith Senior Associate. Thank you, Joe Ales and Steve Smith.
Tyler Hajdu, an Assa Abloy Openings Studio Building Technologies Consultant sponsored the Dinner and the MVP award. Thank you, Tyler Hajdu.
Widny Jean, AIAs President Valencia Chapter thank you for seeking to host this event.
Nate Ferguson, Anthony Heggin, Abhishek Sastri, thank you for bringing the full body of UCF ASME and the UCF DTO Hackathon team to the event.