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Digital Engineering & Advisory

What is digital engineering?

Digital engineering is the art of creating, capturing and integrating data using a digital skillset

From drawings to simulations and 3D models, engineers are increasingly using advanced technologies to capture data and craft design in a digitised environment. Through progressive applications, the art of digital engineering enables designers to explore possibilities and develop innovative solutions in a virtual environment.

While 3D models are considered as the most comprehensible form of digital engineering, it is the computable data behind the model that opens the window to vast possibilities and opportunities. Once the design is finished, the digital information can be utilised by the construction and operations teams, allowing them to unlock its potential by manipulating the data for their advantage and for the community they are building for.

Five game changers of digital engineering

Digital possibilities

  1. Digital evolution – The processes inherent in digital engineering are continuously evolving. As the supporting technologies and costs of cloud processing and storage are developing at an exponential rate, disruption to the traditional practices will always persist. The newest technologies today may soon become out-dated, and will eventually be replaced by faster and more efficient tools that will change the way we design and deliver projects.

  2. Unlocking data is key – Data capture and manipulation is essential in developing accurate and effective virtual models that can test the performance of a design. Unlocking the power and various functions of data will depend on how a digitally savvy engineer understands and works with it.

  3. Fundamental engineering principles prevail – Going digital doesn’t mean that the fundamental principles of engineering are out of date – they are just enhanced by technology. Curriculums for engineering students will still revolve around the classic engineering principles, supplemented with teachings on how and when to use digital tools. The best solutions will be derived by the augmentation of human and machines.

  4. Collaborative practice is reborn – The decades of designers residing in siloed offices are being broken down. As new, collaborative real-time processes of co-design and review are emerging, the time-honoured paper-based processes are being challenged. While the idea of collaborating with project teams is not new, the emergence of different digital platforms is changing the way we work together.

  5. Improved optioneering – Traditionally, predicting the performance of design has been challenging, with engineers spending time laboriously analysing a single option to derive a result. Digital engineers are increasingly harnessing the power of cloud processing to enable them to generate multiple design options, and test them all instantly in the virtual environment.

Essential tips for digital engineers 

  1. Keep up with the digital evolution 
    Digital engineers must keep up with the digital trends and make it a habit to explore and learn about them. With unabated development in digital solutions underway, they should aim to be up to date with the new technologies, and learn how to spot opportunities that can help in improving the design, construction and operations process.

  2. Learn how to code
    Coding and scripting is a great skill to nurture. While IT professionals may be better at coding, engineers can provide a better understanding on how to apply it for design. As the barriers of non-interoperable design applications are fast being eroded through application programming interfaces (API), digital engineers should step up and take advantage of its benefits.

  3. Soft skills still matter
    Digitisation is not all about maths or science. It is important to acknowledge that soft skills are important too. Since clients may not always understand the technical aspects of building information modelling or simulations, digital engineers must bridge that gap through effective communication and collaboration – they must tell the story of digital engineering.

  4. Diverse backgrounds and skills are important
    To create holistic and effective designs, digital teams composed of members with diverse backgrounds may be the key to make sense and maximise the potential of the digital revolution. The aim must be to get different kinds of expertise and specialisation into a team, as this will be most valuable in developing progressive design solutions for users.

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