The items sitting on a civil engineer’s desk haven’t changed much in the last 20 years. What have changed dramatically are the tools and resources available to a civil engineer on his or her computer.
With the increasingly predominant role of 3-D CAD and modeling design solutions for civil engineers; more integrated software solutions than ever before; advanced data collection options such as LiDAR and 3-D laser scanning; an evolving incorporation of CAD data and GIS; and longer lifecycle of digital civil engineering information, such as for construction with GPS machine control it’s safe to say that very much has changed.
Our reader survey last fall (results were published in November 2007, "Civil engineering technology: The state of practice") showed that most civil engineers do not have a strong understanding of how 3-D modeling software is different than 2-D CAD. Additionally, feedback from our webcast related to this article last fall (www.cenews.com/webcast) indicated the same quest for detailed, high-level explanations of what a modern 3-D model is, the dynamic nature of new CAD software, and how this all plays a part in the macro changes in the AEC industry, including increased collaboration, data sharing, longer project data lifecycles, and BIM.
This month CE News delivers two helpful resources to assist your efforts to keep up with the ever-evolving software solutions for civil engineering.
The first, and most impressive, is our Special Report, "Changing the landscape: 3-D CAD modeling is emerging as the standard civil engineering design solution," by Mark J. Scacco, P.E. This article is a comprehensive, easy-to-read, yet detailed, explanation of what dynamic 3-D CAD software is and how it is different than traditional 2-D CAD software. Additionally, the article discusses features of various dynamic 3-D CAD and modeling solutions in an effort to exemplify the vast improvements and opportunities modern solutions yield.
It is no easy task to incorporate the thoughts of several software developers while maintaining an objective article. My hat goes off to Scacco for his thorough article and fair reporting. I think you’ll find it to be one of the best resources of its kind currently available in the industry.
While this article tells the story of 3-D CAD modeling, CE News will host a webcast this month that will show you. Find out more about the CE News Webcast Series presentation, "3-D and Model-centric Design Software," at www.cenews.com/webcast.
Many civil engineers and designers already have upgrades or new CAD solutions loaded on their computers, but aren’t taking advantage of the enhanced functionality the programs provide. In this competitive economic climate, which also suffers from limited staff with the necessary talent and experience, every civil engineering firm needs to make the most of its technology investments. Other firms are gearing up to implement new solutions and must conduct thorough research and planning in advance so that they are prepared for the benefits, challenges, training requirements, and process changes that may be part of the new technology adoption. I hope the Special Report and webcast this month will arm you with a better understanding of the new solutions available to empower your designs and, if all goes as planned, your firm’s profitability.