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Insights Meet a Design Director leading digital transformation in engineering design.

Introducing Errick Gray, CM-BIM, Digital Design Director from Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, in Orlando, Florida. An intriguing blend of digital engineering specialist and professional musician, Errick brings his expertise with Bentley's OpenRoads and iTwin software while still delighting in his passions for piano and singing.

What do digital design engineering professionals do?

As Digital Design Director, my job is to guide and promote advancements in digital engineering design. This involves managing activities that help modernize our methods, discover new ideas, automate processes, create standards, put them into practice, and help our clients do the same. 

I work across various design areas in our company, such as highways, buildings, water, aviation, and geospatial. I'm also involved with tech platforms like Bentley, Autodesk, Trimble, and Esri. 

My role is to support projects from the start to the end, helping to create and maintain detailed digital design strategies. I'm also proud to lead a fantastic team of digital experts in the US who support me and help bring our company's digital vision to life.

What tools do digital design engineers use?

Autodesk and Bentley are the two big names we use for 3D modelling everything from building design to wastewater treatment. Think of these platforms as toolkits, full of resources for quick 3D modelling or in-depth analysis of designs. For mapping and analyzing location data, we use Esri's GIS software.

"My main responsibility is to help our colleagues and clients develop more efficient, forward-thinking digital workflows that enable us to maximize value over the entire asset life cycle from concept through operation and maintenance. This is accomplished by giving them the industry leading knowledge, support, tools and skills they need to be meet and exceed expectations."

 Errick Gray, CM-BIM, Digital Design Director, Atkins US

Harnessing certainty over intuition

I've been a Bentley software user since 1995, and I've never been more excited about the future. Bentley has rolled out two transformative technologies that have reshaped how we design, work together, analyze and use data.

First, there's OpenRoads technology, a versatile software covering all aspects of civil infrastructure design, making it easier to dynamically tweak our designs.

Second, we use iTwin Design Review. This cloud-based tool allows us to review designs and collaborate more effectively. It consolidates various data types – like 3D models, survey results, CAD files, photos, and more – into a single platform. This way, everyone involved in a project can engage with 3D models, review plan documents and track feedback all in one place. It's been a really powerful tool for us.

Digital twins are enhancing possibilities

iTwin is a game-changer for how we work with design content. It lets us use what we've developed during the design phase throughout an asset's life cycle. It facilitates everything from collaborative design reviews to complex tasks like creating a digital twin. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical asset with a data connection to the real thing.

For instance, if we develop a 3D bridge model, after the bridge is builtl we can link the real bridge and the model together in a useful way. For example, this could be done through a sensor that tracks the bridge's movement. The sensor sends real-time data back to the 3D model, so we can see what's happening with the actual bridge without being there. We can use this data to make smarter decisions and predict what might happen. This is just one example – the potential applications are limitless. 

Making our cities smarter with digital twins

A project that uses this technology is the Floyd Hill highway project in Colorado, which we recently won. During the bid phase, we were testing out iTwin Design Review, and our team did a fantastic job explaining its advantages, which we think helped us win. We've also been encouraging and supporting some of our clients in Florida, like the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, to try out this technology as a new way to review their designs. We're excited about this and how it could benefit many other projects.

Creating our own tool has been game-changing

I am also really proud of our work with Bentley developing a unique tool on Bentley iTwin technology. The App enables us to reduce large amounts of data to meet project-specific needs and reference this information directly into our Bentley CAD production environments. This eliminates manual exports and provides a more efficient method to keep data in sync with the original source content. This is also the first time we worked with a vendor to develop our own tool, and the result is something we are looking forward to leveraging in a variety of ways.

Words I thrive by…

One of my favourite quotes is, "We are data-rich but information poor." Our job as BIM Managers and BIM Integrators is to wade into the deep waters of 'Data' to help our clients and colleagues understand the value they can derive from the right information. Another is the Bible verse Luke 12:48, "...To whom much is given, from him much will be required." I believe I've been given a great opportunity, but with that comes great responsibility to return the investment.

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