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AEC to BE – Do You Have the Skills to Make the Transition?

image of AEC and BE
AEC and BE

I suppose the mega-trend that sums up all of what is taking place concerning the transition from AEC to BE is digital transformation, but it sure feels like a lot more. Maybe the idea of Smart Cities sums it up best.

image of AEC to BE

AEC to BE Credit tes.com

Most of us seasoned veterans grew up in the traditional AEC – Architecture, Engineering (civil), and Construction world with clearly defined, albeit often antagonistic roles that date back to at least the Roman Empire. It is very hard to beleive that for more than 2,000  years these AEC roles have essentially been unaffected by the technology around them. From the printing press, to the steam engine, to electricity, the radio, airplanes, rockets, nuclear energy and many inventions that I have left out, the AEC roles have essentially remained the same.

That process of maintaining the status quo is now being transformed along with most every other aspect of our daily lives as we transition from the analogue to the digital world. You may have noticed that I left out a couple of relatively new inventions, at least in terms of centuries – the PC and the Internet.

It has taken some 80 years from the first days of main frame computers and at least 40 for the Internet, but now critical mass has been achieved and there is no stopping the forces that are at work.

If you have been wondering what BE stands for, it is the Built Environment. What, you may be asking is so different about the BE? Everything. Let’s start with just a few items: drones, smart cities, the Internet of Things, AI, AR/VR/MR, autonomous vehicles, micro-satellites, ride sharing, climate change – get the picture? It’s a totally new world.

Now imagine what the BE is going to look like and how it is going to function 25 years from now. Do you think that it is a long time? Think back 25 years to what you were doing then and fast forward to now. That’s not all that long a time.

If you intend to be working then, will you have the skills needed to thrive in the BE? I know that most AEC university programs are not teaching these skills.

Let me know what you think.

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  • Good Morning,
    I read your article concerning AEC to BE with interest; and agreement. I have never been more amazed by our future than now; I have been watching and predicting only the experiential growth of our industry; but not the actual direction.

    I have been a surveyor for over 40 years, with a start on a chain and one minute transit, and have been the lucky participant in the evolution of EDM’s, Total Stations, COGO, GPS, CAD and later leader in new technology such as Close range photogrammetry and liDAR. I have never failed to be amazed by what has come out of the minds and hearts of our industry leaders; and feel truly grateful that I could witness the change.

    Some of my peers get overwhelmed by change and suffer from a great sense of nostalgia; and while nostalgia is a good way to remember those giants who’s shoulders we stand on; it is also a cloud in our crystal ball.

    Keep up the good work!

    Mark Wood

    • Thank you Mark – very well said. I am on my 53rd year and as you did started with a 100 ft. steel tape, a plumb bob and a 1 minute gun – painful.

      Lidar is truly an amazing technology.

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