Will Asian Women be the BIM Industry Decision Makers of the Future?

On the way to the deep jungles of Cambod by Stuck in Customs, on Flickr

This and other very many important questions were pondered last week at the Australasian Revit Technology Conference held in Auckland.  One of the things that I love about the conference is the wide variety of sessions conducted from the very technical to the very philosophical.  The title of this post came from a session very much of the philosophical bent where Chris Razzell (HASSELL) and Jason Howden (RTV Tools/ Woodhead) posed a series of questions to each other whilst sitting on a velvet couch with a sequined  cushion and then creating info-graphics based on audience votes.  Now the question posed was actually, who will be the decision makers of the future? And Chris’s answer was asian women – but really it was an irresistible  blog title wasn’t it?

Anyway Chris was suggesting that due to population and development growth potential, Asia will over time become the drivers of the construction industry and potentially of BIM and that women should be more involved in all kinds of industries. I’d like to think he was also suggesting that if more women were involved in decision making in BIM then the industry would be further advanced and the arguments of BIM execution plans would have already been solved?*** Whilst over the 5 years that I have been attending RTC the number of female delegates has increased, there is still a clear dominance of males within the BIM world, both as conference attendees and speakers. There is also an absence of interior designers as well, a concern for anyone working in this field I think. As an interior designer (or an architect or an engineer) you are going to need to understand BIM or you will be left behind – I think it has become clear that BIM is not an industry trend, and no matter which package or software we use -the way that the design and construction process works is changing significantly due to all kinds of technology.

Embracing Change was the theme of this years conference and I wonder if it was this theme rather than an industry trend that meant there were a lot less presentations focussing on integration this year? Or have we learnt to integrate? I hope we haven’t given up on integration (I didn’t get that feeling from any of the discussions I had).

I thought the choice of speaker for the keynote speech was an unusual one, prior to the conference I was trying to figure out what a child psychologist might have to say to a bunch of BIM managers (it happens that my own partner is actually a child psychologist). But Nigel Latta spoke about change, how to deal with change and how to deal with difficult people who are resistant to change. A keynote speech which was very appropriate to the theme, but also with something for everyone to take home – just in case you are stuck in a woodworking shop with a murderer, now you know how to handle it.

Whilst this is the first RTC where I’ve learnt how to deal with a murderer in a woodshop, one of the things I like about RTC is the variety not just of approaches but of disciplines, techniques and tools – from very technical talks about families and parameters, to using Revit with a variety of plug ins and add ons and through to the industry update and business talks of the principal’s stream. There really is something for everyone – even for ArchiCAD users (there was one in attendance, as well as a comparison of Revit and ArchiCAD by Rodd Perey from Architectus). However, if you want to know about the detailed variety of the talks, I can’t really help much – I realise now I spent half the conference listening to either myself, Jason, Chris or Rodd speaking. No wonder I felt like I hadn’t seen much variety this year!

In reviewing the overall program this year there was a focus on adaptive components, family building and using Revit and Excel together. Even if I could not attend everything there was always the opportunity to either browse the session materials online (the new app was great) or discuss with other conference participants during the breaks. One of the main questions discussed over drinks was Is there a use for an elephant in my next Revit project? Marcello Sgambelluri (John Martin Structural Engineers) has become famous in the Revit world for his classes on building crazy Revit families including elephants, cows and human faces. This then lead many onto the question, can I use adapative families for anything useful? One which was apparently answered by Tim Waldock (PTW) in his session which demonstrated various uses including egress paths and fencing that worked over terrain models. Even if I can’t use it, I’m still looking forward to seeing Marcello’s promised peacock next year, it is great to see people pushing the boundaries of Revit rather than saying Revit can’t do that!

I got some great and very useful tips from presentations by Jason, Katia Gard (The Buchan Group) and Callum Freeman (Assemble Ltd). For me, like many experienced Revit users the little things we find at RTC talks can really be helpful to us back in the office. There are so many times that I feel talks either validate my own existing workflows and methods (so therefore there is no point wasting time looking for a better way) or they give me a few great and very practical tips that I almost can’t believe I ever thought of it myself (filters or phasing for your white card models). I’m also going to have another look at Sketchup following Jerome Buckwell’s(Jaxmax) talk on integrating Sketchup and Revit. Now I just need to find a Revit office to go apply them in!

Overall, a great RTC. Everyone I spoke to thought the quality of speakers was great, I didn’t speak to anyone who attended a class they thought was really poor.  Thanks to the organising committee for all their hard work.

It did feel smaller this year, partially I think due to being in such a large hotel, whereas at Wollongong last year the conference basically filled the hotel. Perhaps also due to a number of noteable absences as its appears there is a BIM baby boom (half the organising committee were not there due to babies about to or just born). The Langham hotel was generally a pretty good venue, although for some reason seemed surprised that a conference of 300 people required well in excess of 600 wifi devices to be connected – leading to internet connectivity problems on the Friday. As a speaker trying to download a presentation onto my iPad at this point, I was very relieved at how easily the RTC Events staff were able to help me and sort out a laptop for loan. And by the Saturday the internet problems had also been resolved, so points to the venue for sorting it out so quickly.

So another year to wait for RTC again, unless you happen to able to get yourself to Vancouver for the North American conference in July or Delft, the Netherlands for the inaugural European Conference in September. Unfortunately I don’t think I can so, see you in Melbourne next year (we started working on our presentation ideas on Saturday night)!

So what where the discussions and questions you remember most out of RTC? What were the great tips you learnt? Will the Razzell Dazzle index overtake the MacLeamy curve as the most overused conference graphic? Do the bars in Britomart open after midnight? (answer=yes) Can I edit my powerpoint notes on my iPad? (seriously can anyone help) And importantly how can I fit a peacock into my next project? (I reckon as an interior designer I might have more luck than the structural engineers) And if you weren’t there, why not?

***Chris provided this further comment following the conference “Much as it got a laugh, I firmly believe that women have a very important part to play in the future of our industry, particularly Asian women. We all know that it’s the Asian Century, yet many ASEAN countries still don’t treat women equally in the workplace and retain the grossly outdated opinion that women should be subservient. My wife (who’s Vietnamese) often makes better decisions than I do and if Asia is to become the super power that the world deserves, it needs to listen to it’s women.”

Image credits:
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Stuck in Customs 
(And I think its great I managed to find an image that wasn’t about technology to link at least 3 of the things mentioned in this blog together!)

3 thoughts on “Will Asian Women be the BIM Industry Decision Makers of the Future?

  1. Pingback: Read All About It – The RTC AUS 2013 Post Event Blog Roundup | RTC News & Articles

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