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Insights When gaming fuels a passion for VR and AI: #BeyondEngineering

image of a man using a vr headset

23 April 2019

Next time you feel the urge to stop your gaming from turning into a marathon, just think about Johan Germishuys. Growing up, this avid gamer would take his PC and gather with his friends and spend consecutive hours playing games like Quake II: The Reckoning and Unreal Tournament. This gaming passion fuels his digital passion and drive in his role as AtkinsRéalis ’s Manager of Project Information Management, tasked to take our employees #BeyondEngineering into the digital future.

“When I was three years old, my father gave me my first computer,” recalls Johan. “It was a ZX Spectrum from the UK that used audio cassettes, similar in concept to North America’s Commodore 64. My interest was the games. Our first game was Montezuma’s Revenge at a time with classics like Lode Runner and Dig Dug. I’ve had a computer in my lap ever since.”

Johan has had consoles like the Famicom (the original Nintendo Entertainment System), spending hours playing games such as Mario, Adventure Island and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he will always be a PC gamer at heart.

That childhood gift was the start of a lifelong passion for computers and new technology, taking him from rudimentary DOS programming as a kid to exploring the new frontiers of today’s VR, AI, big data and analytics. He views his career to be the natural result of his interest in computers and the influence of his dad, a mechanical designer. Whether he’s playing his favourite game, Anthem, or calling up a developer to talk shop, technology still has the capacity to delight his “inner geek.”

Johan works from AtkinsRéalis ’s Innovation Centre in Toronto as an expert on VR, AI, 3D printing, HoloLens, CAD… and the list goes on. His team recently moved to a commercial application that allows a single person to take a model from Navisworks and make it available in VR in roughly 10 to 90 minutes depending on the size. VR enables collaboration at a very large scale across the global organization. His job can be summed up simply: “I help people use software and technology better... together.”

Johan is driven by the conviction that “there’s always a better way.” In his experience, almost every challenge has a solution—if not today, then tomorrow—as long as people are open and committed to finding one. The gaming industry pushes technological innovation on a daily basis and it inspires him to push the limits with the design teams he collaborates with. AI, VR or real-time physics came from the gaming industry and the industry continues to champion these technologies. The rest of the world is only now catching up to apply such advancements as tools with many applications in the workplace. From collaborating with teams across regions to helping a customer see the design of their future plant come to life, these tools are increasingly shaping how we deliver solutions to our clients.

Gaming may be fun, but as Johan has shown us, it’s actually a preview of tomorrow’s business technology and the skills the rest of us will one day adopt.