by Zach Sample
Stormwater Products Manager
Going into my Design U presentation at the Dallas Fort-Worth BIM Infrastructure User Group (DFWBIUG) I was quite nervous. Many very skilled people were scheduled to attend and present, all experts in the various aspects of Infrastructure and CAD design tools. Speakers discussed 3D Infrastructure models, advanced topography and grading tools, and the latest releases of transportation modeling environments. The combined professional experience of the gathering was staggering.
In the midst of all of these CAD professionals, I there to discuss Stormwater (considered more of a tertiary task addressed by CAD tools). What may be more surprising was that I was there to point out to experienced Engineers how most of them were being wasteful when using their preferred CAD tool to perform Stormwater Design. My presentation focused on how the stormwater design workflow for so many designers is highly inefficient and likely to cause mistakes. Needless to say, I was expecting a little resistance to my position.
Don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t my first rodeo. I have engaged with hundreds of Engineers in meetings and at conferences in the course of shaping our Stormwater Design and Review tool, XPDRAINAGEe. Development of our software has been and continues to be, steered by site developers, CAD designers and hydrologists. We have worked hard to close the gaps in the workflow and to make stormwater design an integrated piece of the CAD experience. Many happy Engineers use XPDRAINAGE as their go-to Stormwater tool for exactly this reason and some are getting written up about it.
This, however, was the first time I’d be teaching a room full of CAD professionals. These folks invest a good amount of time learning and practicing their craft. Some specialists can become protective of their profession and often frown upon newcomers to their arena. My intention was to advance their abilities and toolset when it came to stormwater design. Is that how it would be received?
I was in fact quite surprised! The excited audience and the conversations afterward were engaging and educational. These Engineers had the same frustrations with the data transition between CAD work and multiple stormwater design tools that was referenced by the majority of others I had spoken to. What’s more, they described all the ways that visualized design (which XPDRAINAGE provides) would benefit their personal workflows in far greater detail and enthusiasm than I touched on in my presentation. The way in which XPDRAINAGE allows users to layout a facility in plan view, which is always correctly matching the input dimensions, and then to be able to export that out to CAD and GIS certainly held the “wow factor” for the attendees with whom I spoke.
For all the perceived rain clouds (pardon the pun) that I anticipated, this conference and these engineers demonstrated how our community can be successful by innovative partnerships. The partnerships that helped to create XPDRAINAGE led to a solution that can help real (skilled) people with real problems. This was definitely a happy trip to DFW.