With the abundance of technology and innovation in the construction industry, it can be challenging for companies and project teams to determine where to invest their time and resources. Kevin Lucht, Senior Digital Solution Manager at Arcadis, has faced this issue before, too. “We must always see how a new technology advances the goals of the organization, improves the productivity of our projects, and fits into our technology portfolio.” That’s why he employs an 80/20 rule to determine if the solution will be successful.
Kevin will join industry leaders and changemakers at Autodesk University on September 27-29 in New Orleans. During his case study session, he’ll share his strategies for success with other construction professionals.
We recently got to speak to Kevin about his career, insight on deploying innovations across Arcadis through his 80/20 rule, and why attending in-person conferences is critical for career development.
Autodesk University will offer hundreds of deep learning opportunities like Kevin’s session. Register now to attend this top learning event for construction professionals.
Can you run us through your career thus far?
Solving solutions and reducing risks is what engineers do by their very nature. Being a degreed and professional civil engineer, my 30+ years of experience in the industry has allowed me to gain knowledge of what to do and what not to do when solving problems and reducing risks.
Having worked for several large engineering firms and a very large EPC contractor, my areas of expertise are in the heavy civil infrastructure projects where I have been a design engineer and project manager working on airfields in Kyrgyzstan, rail tunnels in Qatar, and county road improvements in Naples, Florida. In addition to my engineering and construction experience, a third of my career has been with a large software vendor supporting their civil engineering applications and common data environment systems.
These diverse career experiences in my role with Arcadis as a Senior Digital Solutions Manager, which in short, bridges the gap between the IT and the engineering sides of the house, provide a strong basis for assisting our business groups in delivering projects. Combining my technical (digital) background with the variety and complexity of projects has provided me with a breadth of knowledge that can be drawn upon to support projects at Arcadis in providing solutions and reducing risk.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? And how do you tackle these challenges?
My role as Digital Solutions manager puts me at a high level in bridging the gap of technology with project teams and management. The bridging of this gap is really one of the oldest issues we face in our profession because it’s “change.” The pace of change in technology is staggering today and poses numerous risks to both end users and the organization.
We can’t chase every “shiny ball.” Instead, we must always see how a new technology advances the goals of the organization, improves the productivity of our projects, and fits into our technology portfolio.
My rule of thumb in providing solutions to the Arcadis project teams and business groups is following the 80/20 rule. If there is 80% benefit and only 20% unknown, the solution is worth the risk. I’ve fortunately had the experience and scare of poor decisions to aid me to make a go or no decision of whether there is an 80% benefit. I also rely on my peers in the industry as well as those companies such as Autodesk who are advancing technology. In fact, one of the best things I do to aid in the challenges of my role is to attend Autodesk University.
“If there is 80% benefit and only 20% unknown, the solution is worth the risk.”
How can attending in-person events like Autodesk University have an impact on you, not only professionally, but personally as well?
Autodesk University is always a conference that pushes you to grow both professionally and personally just by the sheer size and expertise of those attending. I am never disappointed after attending the conference.
Having attended, presented, and been a host organizer of numerous conferences in my career, there are three things I always attempt to do or get from each one I attend.
One is to attend a presentation on a topic which is new to me and outside my field of focus. This broadens my perspective and provides new insights into how I am approaching the issues in my day-to-day work.
Second, I try to interact with attendees in both formal presentations as well as informal social events. I’m introverted by nature so it encourages me to interact with others which can lead to great conversations and lasting relationships. A few years ago, while I was having lunch at AU, I struck up a conversation with someone and we made a connection. We still keep in contact with each other and speak often about what we started at AU. The relationship has grown to other areas professionally, which has made me look beyond my comfort zone to expand in areas I had not considered.
Lastly, the most important reason to attend any in-person conference, especially Autodesk University, is to network, network, network. Interacting with the leaders in the industry, like-minded individuals, the people behind the applications we use, and just being able to shake someone’s hand while looking them in the eye is invaluable. It cannot be measured. Attending virtual events may appear to save money and time, but personal interactions creates bonds with others and strengthens relationships. It’s the relationships of those we know, trust, and are comfortable with, where successful business transactions occur.
Can you tell us about what you will be presenting at Autodesk University?
I have a case study session called Reduced Risk and Improved Productivity on CAHSR Using Autodesk Build and Autodesk Takeoff (Tuesday, September 27; CS500946). The size of the California Highspeed Rail project magnifies any productivity issues severalfold. The project team initially took a very traditional approach to change order management and verification. As the project progressed the traditional approach proved to be a hindrance in meeting the needs of the project. They had data in SharePoint, on local drives, and in e-mails with no way to secure the information nor know what the correct and latest version is. The CAHSR team struggled using Microsoft SharePoint in the management of the volumes of information, securing the data for release, and had no automated way for quantity verification.
From my background on large infrastructure projects, one of the first thing I recognized was there was no single source of truth for the team. Having a secure single source of truth is a must for projects of this magnitude. Introducing Autodesk Build and Takeoff into this large infrastructure project provides a much-needed digital solution that met solved many of their data management issues. Autodesk Construction Cloud and Autodesk Build provides access control to the information at milestones based on project role and is critical in reducing the risk on the project by having the right information at the right time to the right people. These topics and how automation with Takeoff provided a reduction in effort will be discussed in my session.
Additionally, I will be participating in a panel discussion Take a Load Off with DPR, Windover, and Arcadis (Wednesday, September 28; CS501169). The interactive discussion cover preconstruction activities and estimating from different perspectives of a contractor and owner’s representative in a CM role. We will share our experiences with the new age of estimating and reveal how those benefits help drive project efficiency. We will also discuss common industry challenges, expand on these new ways of working, and highlight all the technologies that make it happen. I hope we can meet at AU this year!