AEC Hackathon comes to Galway

The pan-global AEC Hackathon event stopped at Galway over the weekend of the 12th-14th October attracting attendees to develop innovative, technology-based solutions to industry problems in an agile collaborative manner unrivalled by that of industry today.

For a background on the event and the ethos supporting it, you can read the pre-event press release here. The event kicked off with a presentation from event host John Egan from BIM Launcher on an introduction to the Autodesk Forge platform. Not least for being the first AEC Hackathon on Irish soil, this was the first AEC Hackathon to be run in parallel with another event happening simultaneously in London. Made possible by Google Hangouts, both events shared access to the presentation followed by a welcome from Damon Hernandez, founder of the AEC Hackathon organisation.

Shortly after, it was time to reveal industry challenges from our sponsors and renowned BIM talent and BIM technology lecturer at GMIT, Gerard Nicholson. Gerard alluded to the political failure to increase carbon tax during our last budget and challenged attendees to think about how a solution could come from within the industry. All challenges were open to attendees at both London and Galway venues.

Without further ado, the hacking commenced late into Friday evening and over the course of the weekend. Attendees were fuelled by an abundance of free barista quality coffee and attendees seemed to successfully turn this into industry solutions.

The hacking continued until Sunday 2 pm. Anticipation grew in favour of a showdown for what would become a competition between Ireland and England to claim the award for best overall prize. Our pride was at stake and the work that was put into the weekend justified the reason why.

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Thanks to Google video streaming technology, a connection between both venues made sharing presentations a breeze and intense competition ensued between teams from both sides of the pond. Ireland claimed not only the best overall prize, but also the best use of Forge technology and solution to reduce the impact of climate change.

The best use of Forge technology went to “The Burriors” made up of Gavin Donohue, Sean McCann, Michael Naughton and John Egan. Responding to a current industry challenge, Gavin Donohue of AGL Consulting describes the background to the eloquently presented solution making use of the Forge viewer: “I was looking for a way to automatically populate a drawing with earthworks test results so that a site team could assess where design criteria was or wasn’t achieved. During the Hackathon weekend, I worked with a team of computer scientists who helped integrate a Microsoft Excel Online document with AutoCAD Civil 3D using the Autodesk Forge API. Test results were output to the Autodesk Forge 3D model viewer which doesn’t require a license to review.”

The best response to changing the construction industry to reduce the impact on climate change went to team “LowCo2”. The team was made up of Faheem Noonan, Alan Kelly, Neil Anderson with a special thanks to Belinda Dillon, acting mentor from Digital Construction Technologies Group who helped them reach this success over the weekend. This solution provided a streamlined approach for decision makers to review the environmental and cost impact for using ecologically friendly building components. After a great presentation from the team, this was a hands down winner in this category demonstrating a great combination of Revit schedules with Excel tools.

Last but not least, the best overall project went to Andy McNamara and Ian McAuley as “Team GSD”. Both acclaimed experts in the BIM technologies space, it was no surprise that this solution was awarded the best overall project for both the London and Galway events. Over the weekend, the pair produced a tool that allows design consultants to make informed decisions about the environmental impact for project materiality selection. Confident in the backing of an acclaimed lifecycle assessment database, designers can be confident in the quality of information displayed to them through a reactive dashboard as they configure designs in real time.

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An award ceremony concluded the event with presentations from industry veteran and BIM expert Jim O’Connor, lecturer at GMIT. He thanked attendees for giving him fond memories of the early days of collaborative construction hacking based around developing LISP scripts for the AutoCAD platform. A collective spirit emerged and it was an honour for attendees to receive certificates of accomplishment from Jim.

See the video below to see what the event participants had to say about the event:

Team GSD (overall winners) presented their work at CitA Tech Live which took place in Croke Park on November 8th & 9th. BIM Launcher will provide assistance to Team GSD to scale the app to the wider industry. The app is now open for beta testing; enquiries by email to andy.mcnamara@gmit.ie

The AEC Hackathon event organisers and BIM Launcher would like to thank the attendees and event sponsors for making the event a huge success. Thanks to Evercam who provided API access, Stewart Construction for challenges, Ian Keough and Comhar Design who provided challenges but did not make it past team selection stages. We would also like to thank local cuisine providers, and media support from BIMIreland.ie and Galway Media. We look forward to welcoming you all to Galway next time.