January 25, 2019
October 5, 2018
Project Engineer II Dinesh Allam has been selected as one of the top 20 under 40 construction professionals by Engineering News Record (ENR) Southwest. Dinesh leads efforts to automate preconstruction processes for Sundt’s Concrete Division, and his work has resulted in substantial time savings and added value for the company. Starting as an intern with various design and construction firms on civil projects, he went on to earn a master’s in construction engineering from Arizona State University. Dinesh joined Sundt in 2016 as an Estimator, and now as a Project Engineer he is developing cost management dashboards with the company’s project management group. This week, Dinesh took some time amid his busy schedule to share about his recent award.
At 26, how does it feel to be the youngest (and the only twenty-something) selected in ENR Southwest’s Top Young Professionals?
I just thought “Wow!” I expected there to be more [people in their 20s]! (Laughing). But it’s a huge honor for me. When I heard the news, I knew I’d get some stick from everyone, like, “Oh, here comes that top-rated guy!” It’s been nice though; at the different jobsites, people have been recognizing me. So yeah, it’s been a good ride.
Your ENR profile describes you as an innovator. What’s the most innovative thing you’ve done with Sundt?
Innovation, for me, is more about our culture. But one specific thing I did was take apart 2-D take-offs and turn them into 3-D take-offs. This resulted in time savings across the board, which led to a big culture change in our division: how we hire, how we estimate, everything. I give credit to my group too because they adopted that. It’s hard sometimes to change the way people do things. I was 23 when I joined Sundt and brought up this idea, and they said, “Do it.” They trusted me, and that was a huge deal. Based on our survey, we were able to achieve 82% time savings across all major [precon] processes. And, from last year to this year, we have the same amount of people and twice the amount of revenue. That’s something I really take pride in.
You come across as someone who is very driven and invested in this industry. What motivates you?
When I see inefficiencies, I see opportunities. If I can make a difference in my circle—within ACI (American Concrete Institute) for example, then it can impact the whole industry. And if we can drive that innovation from within Sundt, it benefits us but also everyone else too. That’s one of our core values—industry and community service—and sometimes those commitments cost money and work hours. But Sundt realizes the benefits are real and gives me those opportunities, and for me that’s also motivating.
So you’re working on your MBA, guest lecturing at ASU, giving your time to different industry and community efforts—how do you keep everything balanced?
My number-one rule is that once I go home, I shut off my work phone. I also run every day, which helps me shed off all the stress. And I just do a bunch of active things like mountain biking. The other side is spending quality time with friends, having a social life.
Looking toward the future, what are some big-picture trends you see affecting the industry in the next few years? And where do you see yourself within that process?
Everyone is trying to cut costs for construction services, and we see this trend happening in every market; people are trying to pay builders less and less. I think if we can pursue certain niche markets and establish ourselves as a leader, and perform really innovative and skilled work, we can differentiate ourselves and rise above that trend.
August 16, 2018
Like many innovators who came before them, Eric Cylwik and Ryan Haines were never seeking recognition. They just wanted to do their jobs better—and save people’s time and money in the process. The two saw a problem in the construction industry, and they set out to fix it. Eric and Ryan’s selection as finalists for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Autodesk Innovation Award was a nice bonus, but the real success is what the industry at large stands to gain from their new technology. Its name? The civil Construction Toolkit, or “CTK.”
Virtual Construction App Developer Ryan Haines (center) and Sr. Virtual Construction Engineer Eric Cylwik (right) accept the AGC Innovation 3rd-place Award
CTK technology began as a response to larger issues in the civil sector causing huge inefficiencies. A nationwide trend toward 3D modeling in the preconstruction process has generated loads of data. But by itself, this data isn’t actionable information. Also, most of it is siloed off between designers, contractors, and engineers, instead of flowing into a single stream of information for a project. Estimators in particular spend hours counting the “what” of a project (volumes, areas, lengths, counts, and weights)—6.4 million hours in the past year to be exact, the equivalent of 70 full-length careers. Instead of counting the “what,” Eric and Ryan thought, these professionals could spend more time on the “how” and, in the process, become more of an asset to their companies.
CTK user quickly quantifies the entire project model, by phase, in Autodesk Civil 3D
Enter: the CTK, a technology that supports parametric modeling. In the absence of a 3D design model, a CTK user can take lots of numbers from construction documents and convert them into 3D models, with a few mouse clicks. These models can then be quantified to cover all construction estimating needs, including sequencing and phasing of a project, and provide visualization for design all in a matter of hours instead of weeks. The same models can even be used for automated machine guidance (AMG) by heavy equipment operators in the field. “This technology shifts the focus from construction being a reactionary industry to an industry that proactively adds value,” Eric said. “Proper planning ensures efficient construction, and by removing mundane tasks from a construction service provider it enables them to focus on predictable services.”
Sundt uses the CTK on a daily basis and has seen immense added value across projects for both our employee-owners and our clients
In presenting the CTK to various industry groups, including the AGC, Eric and Ryan were often asked: How did you convince your company to invest in this? “The funny thing is,” Ryan said, “this was already part of our jobs and company culture. The return on investment had been established, just in the huge amounts of time we were saving in our own jobs, across multiple projects.” Eric pointed out that he and Ryan were also recognized for the CTK by Sundt a year ago, with the Going Beyond the Expected Award. “It’s just part of what we do at Sundt. We’re builders. And by virtue of that fact, we’re innovators.” Overall, CTK is a means of delivering better infrastructure. “When we design, estimate, and build from the same information,” Ryan said, “everyone wins with better quality and efficiency.” For a company whose mission is to be the most skilled builder in America, having innovative people on our team is a win indeed.
September 18, 2017
Our Building Group’s Southwest District recently completed a 10-story high-rise academic medical and research laboratory in downtown Phoenix, the Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building. Sundt captured the project in 360-degree video and images to show off the world-class research and laboratory spaces. The complexity of these spaces is difficult to put into words, as so much is happening from an architectural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing perspective. 360-degree imagery offers a more intuitive way to explore this environment—looking around. It reveals details that required extended coordination, such as how the building’s copper exterior mimics the walls of the Grand Canyon, or the way natural light floods into the library. Ultimately, people can see what inspires our employee-owners to exceed expectations: bringing the entire built environment to life.
Watch our 360-degree video tour of the building and drag/swipe to explore the finished project!
August 9, 2017
Sundt Senior Virtual Construction Engineer Eric Cylwik speaks to a class at Arizona State University’s Del E. Webb School of Construction.
Sundt Senior Virtual Construction Engineer Eric Cylwik recently went back to school to share some of the many ways technology can improve the way general contractors serve their clients.
Eric spoke to an upper-level class at Arizona State University’s Del E. Webb School of Construction about the many advantages Building Information Modeling (BIM) can provide on a project. BIM involves generating and modeling both the physical and logistical characteristics of a building.
“I am convinced that the best way to learn a subject is to teach it,” Eric said. “The complicated subject of how BIM interfaces with every individual on a project is a difficult story to tell in under an hour, so it really forces me to refine how I approach technology. Engaging with the students is also an excellent opportunity to meet new people entering the industry. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will be using all of this technology.”
The fundamental idea Eric teaches the upcoming generation of builders is that technology will inevitably be the backbone of the construction industry.
“My background is in digital visualization, so I love being able to dive in to the technical details of how 3D models are created from photogrammetry and the puzzle of building complicated geometry in 3D,” Eric said. “Constructors take on significant risk with the selected means and methods for any project, so it is always a challenge to select the correct modeling tool to visualize that risk.”
Eric is quickly becoming popular on the college speaking circuit. He will be presenting to a class at the University of Arizona in November.
Our entry in the Phoenix Canstruction competition includes more than 600 cans of food that will be distributed to Phoenix’s under-served community.
Working with industry partners DWL Architects and Schafer Engineers, a Sundt team participated in the Phoenix Canstruction competition, which runs through Thursday at the Phoenix Convention Center.
The team’s entry is a phoenix comprised of more than 6,000 cans of food. The structure, which measures more than 8 feet tall, was planned using building information modeling to work out the design, get an accurate can count and ensure the display fit the physical constraints of the competition.
Canstruction is an international community service event where design teams compete to build structures out of canned food. For the past 11 years, Canstruction, in conjunction with the Arizona Chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, has invited architects, engineers, contractors, design firms and schools of design to participate in this effort to help St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. The event offers the design community the opportunity to exhibit its imagination and creativity while helping the less fortunate in our state. Since its inception, Phoenix Canstruction has provided more than 400,000 pounds of canned food for those in need across Arizona.
The Sundt team included Ryan Abbott, Doris Baker, Melissa Love, Rich Gohl, Deni Liechty, Matt Vandenberg and Randy Zastrow. Our sponsors were E&K of Phoenix, Dow Diversified, Bell Steel, JFK Electric and Century Sign Builders.
To see the entries, please visit the Phoenix Canstruction Facebook page.