Advancing the Field of Engineering with Computational Design
Entuitive’s commitment to advancing the field of engineering with parametric modelling and computational design has taken us from academia to the industry. In addition to giving guest lectures on parametric modelling to engineering students and working with them on Capstone projects, our people have been promoting computational design to the wider AEC industry as well.
Patryk Wozniczka, Computational Design Specialist at Entuitive, is a founding member of the Toronto Dynamo User Group (ToDUG), a community of visual programming enthusiasts whose aim is to promote computational design to create a better, more sustainable built environment. The group has hosted several events since its inception, with the next one taking place on June 23, focusing on digital fabrication in the AEC industry.
We sat down with Patryk for a quick chat on the inception of ToDUG and why computational design education is the future of the industry.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Patryk. Let’s start with how the Toronto Dynamo User Group formed.
Patryk: The founding committee met during a Dynamo Hackathon. This was a two-day event organized by Autodesk at their learning centre in the MaRS district in Toronto, and it was only the second such event in the world.
Dynamo is a visual programming tool used with Revit, the BIM software, that allows for easier programming. Rather than having to remember lines of traditional code, Dynamo offers a library of “nodes” to put together into various algorithms. It’s a kind of drag-and-drop form of programming.
During the hackathon we started discussing the possibility of forming a group that would popularize these computational design methods within the local designer community. We wanted to initiate and cultivate conversations on topics beyond Dynamo as well, such as the state of the industry and sharing the best tools for the job in this ever-changing landscape of technology.
Why do you think it’s important to facilitate and promote computational design right now?
Patryk: The ability to create smarter tools allows actors to stay at the forefront of technological development and helps them design better, more sustainable, more resilient artifacts and buildings. We focus not only on computational design but also think holistically about the entire lifecycle of a building.
In times of increasing climate risk, we must pay attention to the environment, and thanks to an abundance of data, we finally can. Phenomena like temperature gradients have acquired a level of evidence that they did not possess a couple of decades ago. We can use this data together with computational design tools to design a built environment that doesn’t harm the natural environment quite so much. We can get really creative with how the structures of the future will look and act.
The means to taking advantage of this information explosion is the rapid digitization of the AEC industry, incorporating not only computational design methods into the design of buildings/objects but also digitizing the process of the construction, maintenance, and recycling of buildings. That’s why we’re focusing our next event on the topic of digital fabrication and its opportunities in AEC.
What can computational design achieve in the world of structural engineering?
Patryk: Entuitive recognized the value of computational design for structural engineering workflows early on – the best example is the initiative started and led by Nick Zeeb, our Computational Design Lead, called Project Enhance. This project trains our staff on the various programming software that will allow us to design the best, most efficient structures.
For example, we can input design parameters into an algorithm and run programs to find the optimal structural design based on those parameters. These programs can quickly run through thousands of options in search of the best solution, which would be impossibly time-consuming to perform by hand, providing us with creative options we might not have considered otherwise.
Computational design and digital fabrication give the designer the ability to harness a vast potential for precision measurement, complex modelling, and synthesized manufacturing, including machine learning and artificial intelligence while taking nothing away from design creativity.
What are ToDUG’s plans for the future?
Patryk: We would like to continue supporting the community of computational enthusiasts that gathered around the common excitement of the disruptive potential of digital technologies in AEC. We are on an intriguing path exploring multiplying inter-relationships between design, structural engineering, materials science, control systems, and robotics.
We would like to turn this upcoming panel discussion into a series exploring pressing issues and processes that are central to our industry. The next panel will address the ongoing ecological emergency. Simultaneously we will continue organizing more casual user groups and workshops.
Thank you, Patryk, for taking the time to talk to us today about computational design. We look forward to more great events from the Toronto Dynamo User Group.
If you’d like to learn more about computational design and digital fabrication, reach out to Patryk Wozniczka.