May 1, 2023

#034 – Eveart Foster- Transcription

Bricks and Bytes
Bricks and Bytes
#034 - Eveart Foster- Transcription
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Show Notes

But where I see the wildest vision for construction’s data is being able to use AI in a way that is proactive. I know that you guys have probably seen ChatGPT and OpenAI and all these other amazing and viral technologies being utilized overnight. A good first step is being able to ask AI a question and it gives you a response. Yeah, that’s cool. I think we could set up a lexicon within a project or a program of projects to ask, “Hey, what’s my biggest risk on this project?” That would require not only historical data of what were risks on previous projects, so databases being connected to themselves, machine learning algorithms actually correlate to make a prediction. That’s two, that’s another ingredient needed for this.

Then three is you always, and I think this would be amazing and I think it’s going to get there probably within 10 to 15 years, is conversational AI to not just give you an answer, but to want to refine your question for you and get you a more accurate answer.

So for an example, let’s say we’re building a hospital or a hotel and you log into your project management platform. I log into my project management platform. I get in my dashboard, my project health dashboard, three issues that could cause delays. And not only that, but me being a project manager, I have a different dashboard versus me being a project executive. I care about different things, I do different things. Right, so that’s a personalized dashboard based on my role in the project. The other amazing thing that I feel is gonna happen with AI is it asks you, and you select some things or you give it feedback. And then what it would do is- That’s not important, stop doing that. That’s the next step is it gives you AI based on, well, historically for a project to be healthy at this stage, you should actually be doing this. Yeah.

Oh, it kind of takes the brain of, let’s say a 60-year-old project executive or someone who’s been in construction for decades and allows that brain to be accessible. Yeah, out of combat. So you don’t actually have to have skills needed as historical generations to work in construction. And then you spread that across different functionalities or different areas of project management, like let’s say a superintendent in the field, or a safety manager in the field, or quality manager, you get to decentralize their historical brain into an AI that has seen what they’ve seen and can quantify what to do next based on historical trends of data. You can’t do that without a centralized database. So step one, you can’t do that without data knowing what it means to itself.

So I think AI and a conversational way for construction to actually inform you on which… Do you think that by having something like that, we will have a shortage of skills even more because we will not be required to learn things? So, or you will not be required to know things. So it will be much easier for people to do stuff. Is it good or is it not that good? Yeah, that’s the conversation around AI right now, right? Exactly. Look at ChatGPT and the dispute about homework and stuff like that. But that’s the thing. I think students in schools who, and also I’m researching this because I run, I’m the president of a nonprofit in Chicago that is aimed at increasing the literacy levels of fourth and fifth-grade students in impoverished neighborhoods. So we’re studying what’s the effect of reading programs to increase literacy. So I’m looking at this, I’m also correlating it to AI. And we need to embrace AI and have these students using it as much as possible because if they don’t, someone else will.

So if you’ve shied away from using this tool because you think it’s going to make them weaker, or you’re going to make them less skilled, you’re actually doing a disservice to their longevity because we’re not all going to collectively say, let’s not use AI. Someone else is going to use it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But in construction, if you institute AI to kind of augment the skills needed to make some easy predictions, it’s going to actually be better off because it frees up a lot of the other tasks that they could be doing in true creativity and project management in construction. Just like with kids with AI, I’d almost relate it to the calculator. I’m sure that when the calculator came out, people said we have to ban this from schools, kids won’t know math anymore. Now, we have them use calculators and they not only have calculators, they have laptops in classes. So in my mind, we can embrace AI and really let them run free with how to use it as a tool. We actually probably accelerate what they can do at an early age, meaning 20 years from now, kids who go through kindergarten through high school will be graduating high school with a higher skill set than people graduating college were.

Interesting. I like that. Because before, I was really not sure. And it’s good to have a strong opinion such as yours, Ivar, on that. Yeah, and I’ve been researching GPT. I definitely was, but as soon as I was in there, it’s missing. It’s missing conversation. It’s not asking me to refine my question. It’s not, you can’t make it remember questions, but it’s not treating you as though it or ChatGPT and construction management to remember the project and remember who you are to a project. That would be a… That’s that billion-dollar idea. I really like it. That’s what VCs are looking for. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You gotta make it.

Okay, Martin, do you want to ask the last question on this stuff, on your one about software and advice for founders? I actually prefer a different one, if I can. So gamification and the design in general, like I find that design as a structural engineer, designing things sometimes might become quite a laborious task and there’s not that much fun in creating a model, but if you’re doing it for the last 10, five years, it might not be so much fun. And also, this is an obstacle for young people to enter the industry of architecture design in general. So do you see any trends of companies improving gamification of the design, or is there any tendency to do so to attract younger people to the industry?

As far as design software, obviously you have companies like Nvidia or Unreal Engine or Unity that have kind of taken down the difficulty levels for someone to use their technology, making it more available and accessible to a broader demographic audience. Some of the constraints there still are the cost of buying even the hardware that can support it. But on the other side, I’ve seen a lot of progress and capabilities with VR. The Oculus Rift headset, the Quest 2, and the HoloLens. We tried it out at Pepper Construction to speed up the learning process of our safety training program by creating a game of a job site. And it’s almost like a choose-your-own-adventure where you have to walk around the job site and make decisions based on safety hazards that you come across. There are articles out there, you probably can Google it, about how that actually accelerated the speed of learning and also increased the efficacy, meaning it stuck longer. And the US government’s now catching onto that as well, as far as how to democratize virtual reality to fill in the gaps of public education. So that’s one avenue: make it look sexy with different technology.

But on the other side of that, as far as how to get more people into design engineering and not be so difficult for outsiders to see themselves in, we need the construction industry to start highlighting more the career options you have as someone who doesn’t have construction management experience. There are roles for software engineers in this field, and there are roles for complete outsiders like myself in construction; we just need to do a better job of advertising it. It’s true that architecture, engineering, and design sound like fun jobs, but it takes a long time to get to the level of skills that you need to actually be able to even stamp something, to have your signature on the document. A lot of the roles that you do straight out of college for the first 10 years are 80 hours a week with barely any pay. So that’s where you can see, if you start to, I bet you could probably do research on this, who left architecture firms, engineering firms, and went into construction management because the pay is better and you’re not working as many hours and it’s not as stressful.

At the same time, that’s where I think long-term construction contracts will play a role in the roles needed to develop a project, meaning look at companies that have signed bid build as their construction process, meaning they’re having internal architects, internal engineers, and also another head of project management. So their actual deliverables have two different areas of effect on the project, not only in design and pre-construction, but on the project management. I think that’s allowing, and I would have to ask some of my friends who’ve done this, allowing them to feel a little bit more autonomous in the role and also allowing them to see what design and engineering does to the impact of the project. As an engineer downstream, I think it makes it, you know, intrinsically, a more rewarding career, which would be something easier to pitch to someone straight out of college.

Okay, cool. All right. So conscious of time. So we’ll ask you one off-topic question. And you’ve obviously, we usually do this, we usually have like one, one, two or three, but with you, we have a very diverse background in what you’ve done.

So, what would you say if you could advise someone on how to stay curious? That’s a great question, and I think how to stay curious is to continuously meet new people, be intentional about meeting new people in other industries, not just your industry. Maintain a general curiosity about how things work. And why I have that is because I just never knew about half the things I’m doing now. I didn’t know about the positions I’d be in. I didn’t know the positions existed. And then I was just generally blown away by the technology I was looking at, which made me look into it more. So I started doing my own research, and that turned into a job.

But how to maintain curiosity is one, put yourself in environments in which you can continuously learn. Make yourself, and this is why I’m here skiing in Utah, put yourself in positions where you’re uncomfortable because you’re going to learn something about yourself if you don’t learn anything else. Within those two things, you get to continuously change your paradigm of how you see the world and how you see opportunities to where opportunities aren’t necessarily mountains, no pun intended, but opportunities are more so chances for you to develop a new muscle. Curiosity is fed by uncertainty.

That sounds like a quote. It’s pretty nice. It’s so good. Yeah, honestly. That has to be a preview. You know what? Considering you were not expecting that question, that was… He’s very well versed. 100%. No, I’m very much intrinsic, so public speaking is obviously new to me. In my time at BuiltWorlds, it’s made me grow a muscle of public speaking and really dig into answering something, so that’s what I try to lead with is like I digest moments in life after they happen. And then I try to write down, literally write down, what I experienced so that’s me right now. I’m not just keeping a diary, but I’m writing down what I learned so far, how has it changed me, and how can I use this moment in my career and other things. So curiosity, discomfort is everything.

Cool, and finally, Evart, where can people find out more about you? I’m on LinkedIn: EVART, E-V-E-A-R-T. I should be the only Evart on there unless my dad made a LinkedIn profile. But you can find me on there. And then obviously, I’m in Chicago most of the time. And outside of LinkedIn, you can catch me helping kids on the southwest side of Chicago as a president of the Associates Board. If ever you guys want to look into that, I’ll share some links on my LinkedIn on how to donate. What’s it called? And I’m fortunate enough to be their associate board president of about 50 Chicago professionals in there. We’re going to try to raise a lot of money this year. Yeah, man. Sounds great. Sounds awesome.

Okay, Evart, thank you very much. Thank you. This was great, guys. Appreciate the time.

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