Bringing to Life Complex Structures
An interview with Aimable Mardel, a bachelor of engineering student with plenty of on-the-job experience
Aimable Mardel is a bachelor of engineering, civil engineering, student who has also worked in the civil engineering industry for four years, most recently as a structural technician with BuroHappold. Mardel lives, studies and works in the heart of London, which is one of the world’s leaders in civil engineering and technological advancements. He’s an engineering and technology enthusiast. We spoke with him about how he uses technology, where he thinks the AEC is headed, and his favorite project.
StrXur: What got you interested in construction and engineering? Can you tell me a bit about your career before you began studying civil engineering?
Mardel: In school, I was always interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Of those subjects, engineering and technology were always my favorite. I first got into construction when I did a work experience placement for a structural engineering consultancy in the heart of London. I was young and everything I learned in those two weeks of work experience intrigued me and left an impression on me.
I then went back to the same company every year for more work experience until I graduated from school. By then, they knew who I was and saw my keen interest in the field of engineering and construction in particular, so they offered me a job with them once I graduated from school. However, it was not an ordinary job, as they were willing to allow me to go to university part time to gain a degree in civil engineering. Therefore, I have been in the industry for the same amount of time as I have been studying civil engineering.
StrXur: Construction executives frequently talk about a crisis in construction: there’s a shortage of young people who want to work in the industry. Do you believe this is the case? If so, what do you think are the reasons behind it?
Mardel: To an extent, yes, I do believe this. Primarily because we live in a digital age where more and more people dedicate their lives to the internet or anything digital. I feel as though young people nowadays are more inclined to want to pursue a career in something computer and internet related, as they feel like this is where the future is heading.
StrXur: How important is technology to your work and your studies? And in your opinion, to the future of AEC?
Mardel: Technology is very important in the industry, especially in the fast-paced world that we live in. Recently, there has been a lot more emphasis given to automated procedures and parametric design in order to aid workflow and quicken up the design and drawing production process. In order to further these processes and initiatives though, we need more people who are computationally aware and confident so that we can produce scripts and extensions to software that will improve our workflows.
In addition, technology in the form of software such as Bluebeam Revu is important because software such as this change the way we work for the better by providing tools that allow us to automate process and improve workflow.
StrXur: What are some of the technologies you’ve been most interested in?
Mardel: I have been mostly interested in computer technologies, particularly in the power of coding. Like I mentioned earlier, we live in a digital world, I feel as though knowing how to code in this day and age can really be an advantage. Mainly because code can be utilized in practically any industry. In the construction industry in particular, code can be used to automate how we work and allow us to parametrically design in order to realize and bring to life complex structures that may have never before been possible.
StrXur: How do you use Bluebeam Revu?
Mardel: I use Bluebeam Revu practically every day. I mainly use it to open up a markup and make markups myself. There are quite a few benefits of using this software. These include being able to produce markups that are extraordinarily accurate. This is thanks to the plethora of tools made available by default, but also being able to make your own tools and toolbox. In addition, the calibrate and measure features allows you to remain precise no matter what scale the drawing is in.
Another benefit of the software is the fact that the drawings exported to Revu are in vector format, and so it remains pixel perfect no matter how much you zoom in, but you can also take snapshots of anything and these snapshots will remain as vectors too.
Whenever I have received a markup and the drawing is in color, but the markups are also in color, it can be difficult to distinguish between a markup and the original drawing. This is where the color-processing tool helps. This tool can turn the entire drawing into any color you desire in order to allow you to focus on the important information. In case you notice a mistake somewhere on the document, text editing is made easy as you can edit any bit of text made on the original document straight through Revu. No need to re-export to PDF unnecessarily.
One of my favorite aspects about Revu is the document comparison feature, where you can compare two documents and Revu will highlight where there are changes. This is useful when working with two different revisions of the same document.
In line with what I mentioned earlier concerning automation helping to quicken workflows, the software has a number of tools that can automate tedious tasks such as calculating the areas, volume and perimeters of weirdly shaped boundaries. Bluebeam Revu is truly a software that falls in line with the idea of technology aiding innovation and workflow.
StrXur: What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Mardel: My favorite project is Battersea Power Station in London. This project is so large and complex; there is something interesting to look forward to every week. It will also be home to the new European Apple headquarters, which is something I can be proud to have been involved in.