Friday, August 19, 2011

Stanford University - CIFE

I recently bartered with a research project at Stanford’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) for a Caltrans B3-1 (Type 1) Retaining Wall subassembly. In exchange for the subassembly I’d get a tour of the CIFE facility.

”The CIFE mission is to be the world's premier academic research center for Virtual Design and Construction of Architecture - Engineering - Construction (AEC) industry projects ... to support exceptionally reliable engineering and management practices to plan, design, construct and operate sustainable facilities.”

The research project the subassembly is going to be used on is a study of using a model based approach in the heavy construction domain. The project the study is using is the West Merced Overhead Project on State Route 99, the link points to a Wiki page providing information regarding the study.100_1506

Walking around Stanford University is an interesting experience compared to my experiences attending a state University. For one there wasn’t a large ornate church in the middle of the campus. Based on the ornate artwork and fancy roof structure, you can tell Mr. Stanford was a very rich and generous person to establish the University. The more modern buildings have familiar names of William Gates, Jerry Yang, and NVIDIA.100_1511

Forest Peterson, a Research Assistant, headed the tour with my wife, two daughters and Forest’s daughter. We checked out the a new construction project adjacent to the CIFE building. While the two older children seamed interested in watching the construction equipment move around some aggregate the younger was complaining of the mild heat. The company doing the work is owned by Mr. Bill Gates (not affiliated with Microsoft) and is called Top Grade Construction. Though I think some people on campus do think the more famous Bill Gates owns the company, though I can see the confusion.

After 100_1512checking out the construction site we went over to the Mechanical Engineering building. At the bottom floor they had Google’s first server. It has been rumored that it was decorated with Lego’s, but I after seeing it in person the rumors are not true. The blocks decorating the server actually are DUPLO type blocks. It has a nice new case compared to the old display case.

Later in the afternoon we met with representatives of Synchro and a member of McCarthy. Since Synchro is a 4D scheduling company the topic of discussion was scheduling, 3D modeling and how they are used in the construction industry. It was interesting to hear perspectives from people in the construction industry and how hard it is for the new software tools to become accepted in industry.

Instead of using BIM it sounded more favorable to use Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) to describe the process of modeling before actually performing the construction. The topics of 4D scheduling focused on being able to visualize a schedule and by using Syncro’s products it’s possible to not only visualize the project through the schedule, but also assign other attributes to the schedule to analyze projects to include funding, energy use or impacts to others. I look forward to trying out a 10 day trial of the software to see how it can use Civil 3D models.

While 100_1507we were discussing the scheduling topics the younger members of the tour were busy playing with the interactive smart boards lining the room. They thoroughly enjoyed drawing on them.

The McCarthy member explained how he is using laser scanning, Civil 3D and Revit to verify the geometry during construction. As the building is being constructed the steel members are scanned and checked against the model. The floors are also scanned before and after concrete is poured. After scanning the data is brought into Civil 3D so a surface may be created to see the high/low points in the surface. The concrete surface then can be analyzed for potential problems before flooring materials are applied. Low or high points can be fixed.

The tour was great, I got to meet some interesting and knowledgeable people. If invited back, I’d definitely take them up on the offer.


Matthew Anderson, PE said...

Oh- Laser Scan As-built surfaces for model comparison... that would be neat and much easier than spraying water over hot asphalt to make sure it was flowing the correct direction...

forest.peterson said...

For more information on the application of laser scan and digital image-stitch type applications:

Manny at VT has published articles with digital image applications

Pengbo has some really interesting laser scan work

And, this site has a really good overview of scientific work by Burcu Akinci, Martin Fischer, Jochen Teizer; just a few of the many scientist working in this field.

forest.peterson said...


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