#BuildingLegacies, Architecture, Dallas, Design, Engineering, Innovation, Technology, Women in Engineering

“Never stop learning,” says Puja Sapru, a senior virtual design construction engineer in Dallas, Texas, as she talks about the trends in building design she’s most excited about and offers inspiration to those looking to build a career in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector.

Briefly tell us about yourself and your role at AECOM.

I have been with AECOM for six years as a virtual design construction engineer or Building Information Modeling (BIM) engineer.

I support projects in Dallas, Texas, over the entire construction process, from pursuit to construction to the project close-out phase. In my work, I manage and create digital representations of the physical characteristics of buildings. We build in 3D first and then we optimize the build, which means we get to know all the issues before we go to ground.

Essentially, we test new ways of building. This allows us to be a step ahead when we get to the site. Using virtual design helps flag areas that need to be addressed in advance or where we’ll have potential issues that waste time and resources.

By modeling the level of detail from design and fabrication to installation, we can create an accurate and data rich as-built model. We rely on the model and start building with certainty knowing the design has been tested. We basically build a project twice ― once in a virtual world and once on-site ― resulting in time and cost savings.

What is your legacy? How do you make an impact?

I hope to leave a legacy of “never stop learning.” This is what keeps me going, keeps my zest and zeal up and always motivates me to learn and adopt new tools and technologies.

The BIM industry is evolving every day with new trends emerging every moment. I feel proud when my work positively alters a project’s outcome and we deliver a lean project to the owner and the community. With the use of technology, sometimes the cost savings are huge and it is satisfying knowing I helped to do that.

What’s next in infrastructure for you? How do you see that trend shaping the work you do today?

There are a lot of new trends that are helping us with what we do every day when it comes to coordination through BIM technologies. To name a few, I seek to learn and grow more by using:

  • 3D Printing: This helps us understand the dynamics, functioning and efficiency by analyzing a structure through its look and feel, which is not possible in 3D models.
  • Prefabrication: This is something I see picking up speed in the near future where modular and prefabricated construction can reduce the time of the coordination project and increase its efficiency.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT has the potential to transform the entire BIM modeling and project installation process. IoT can simplify the process of data release to pre-fabrication workshops, general contractors and modelers. It can also help us a great deal in capturing real-time data that can be used to augment the design on the construction sites.

What advice would you give to someone pursing a STEM education or a career in the AEC sector?

Enhance your skill set: The AEC sector is dependent on specific technology tools. These tools are continuously being upgraded and new tools are being introduced into the market. My advice to the people wanting to build a career in this sector would be to keep up with the newest advancements and learn new tools and see how effectively these tools can be used on the projects they are going to work on.

Learn and apply: Applying lessons learned is another great advice which should be practiced as you are gaining experience from project to project. It would greatly affect the progression and completion of the project on-time and with good quality.

Originally published Jul 6, 2020

Author: Puja Sapru