At DADO, we’re interested in learning from young professionals across the construction industry. Whether they’re entering the industry out of college, changing careers, or advancing their knowledge and skills, young professionals help us examine our assumptions and think bigger about what’s possible for construction technology. We asked mechanical engineer Chris Reyes to share his thoughts on the ways his company is prepared for the challenge of document management and innovation.
- 1. How did you choose mechanical engineering as a career? What interested you about the field?
I’ve been passionate about engineering since I was about 6 years old playing with Legos. My interests took a brief foray into marketing and business, but I knew when I started doing college applications that I really wanted to do Mechanical Engineering. I might pursue an MBA later, but for now I knew I wanted to do coursework in biomechanical engineering. I did an internship with SpaceX, and I worked on battery development as an intern with Tesla. I felt disconnected from it, but once I had my first biomechanical engineering class it ignited something. The CEO of my current company is the father of a friend, and that’s how I got connected to current career.
- 2. What kinds of internships did you have as a student?
I had internships with UC-Riverside and UCLA developing batteries for Tesla. These were batteries for electric vehicles, personal electronics, and industry. While I was a student at Cal Poly-Pomona I started a club through campus called SAE Supermileage. Our club’s objective was to produce a gas-powered vehicle but it should run as efficiently as possible. Our vehicle was 3-wheeled and teardrop-shaped and our goal was to achieve 3000 mpg. We got into the 2500 mpg range. Working on the car helped me get clarity around my career and overcome obstacles. It was a great primer in how to run a company. We didn’t have the money to develop the project, so we needed to get sponsors. We established team accountability on deliverables and utilized tools like Gantt charts. For the project to work, everyone needed to deliver what they said they would. When we had to commit to making deliverables on subsystems, lots of learning took place around management and accountability. We always had to make sure we were achieving what we set out to do.
- 3.Did you use tech while you were in school? If so, which tools?
a) Mainly Solidworks for modeling and experimenting. That was our main CAD utility, and it’s where we would make prototypes. We’d also use software for finite and fluidic element analysis and aerodynamics. We used NX Nastran and NASA stress analysis software. We worked with that software at SpaceX. We also relied on Microsoft Visual Studio Code.
- 4. At DADO, we live, eat and breathe construction document search. What are the primary ways you search docs at work now, and is that the same or different to the methods you used in school?
A lot of our documentation lives in Google Drive or cloud repositories. When we must search in these platforms, we experience a lag, and then there’s the file. We organize documents into folders. It would be great to be able to navigate a blueprint or model and be able to select and pull up relevant documents.
- 5. When it comes to construction document search, what do you think is effective? What isn’t?
Making folders that include everything: the file and relevant docs and drawings. Even with cloud services when you upload all of this- it’s built into one drive. Search, in my experience, has been most effective on a local system. There are few barriers to setting things up on a local system. There’s low latency and the ability to view parent/child folders. However, there’s no backup, and it’s difficult or impossible for other people to access. If we could have the reliability of a local server, and pair it with the accessibility of a cloud platform- that would be a gamechanger.
- 6. As tech changes the industry, what are you looking forward to?
Widespread application of generative design using AI-CAD modeling. Before, we’d spend hours and even days on trial and error, looking at stress concentrations. If you send a model to generative design, a cloud server is remotely processing the model and it can reduce mass in ways you couldn’t before. You’re avoiding revisions and able to find the best candidate. AI can be super effective here. Based on the parameters you provide, it will QA/QC your work and make sure the design is optimal. Using machine learning, it will continue to get more refined/accurate. The way I think about it, AI is just another engineering and construction tool like a power tool is.
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