Digital Transformation at CIMA+

Building an innovation-centred engineering firm doesn’t just happen. It takes constant work and a steadfast commitment. Most of all, it takes dedicated leaders with a vision to push boundaries and strive for better ways to work.

One of our innovation leaders, Gary Drozda, is focused on staying ahead of the curve with technological advancements. In this article, he shares how his recent attendance at Autodesk University (AU) is inspiring him and his team to put new ideas to work.


A track record of innovation

Gary has been a proponent of technology-enhanced building design since his career started over 35 years ago. Back then, designs were usually sketched by hand on a drafting board. But when Gary saw how digital technology transformed the design process, there was no going back. “That’s when it was, ‘Wow, this is a Eureka moment,’” he recalls.

Gary is now a specialist in virtual design and construction (VDC) and building information modeling (BIM). As our National VDC/BIM Director of Design Technology, he’s inspiring a new generation of innovative thinkers.


Committed to constant learning

Gary knows the value of keeping up with the fast pace of technology innovation. That’s why he has attended AU nearly every year since the user conference started in 1993.

In the beginning, Gary was one of only a few dozen attendees. This year, over 10,000 people attended AU, making it one of the largest and most influential architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) technology conferences in the world.


Finding inspiration at AU

Gary took three members of his team to AU this year. “We got a lot out of this one,” he says. “When we came back, we each had different takeaways and wanted to try new things, and that’s where it pushes CIMA+.”

“I love anything new that can make us improve, because we can always be better. It doesn’t matter how well we do things now – there’s always a better way of doing it.”

So, what stood out for Gary at AU 2022? He says while there were many great industry insights, two innovations in particular are likely to have the biggest impact on the digitalization of work at CIMA+ – the metaverse and cloud-based tech.


The metaverse is coming

“One of the big things was the metaverse is the future,” says Gary, who describes the metaverse as an online environment where virtual, augmented, mixed and physical reality converge. It will be an open and connected virtual world – not dependent on specific devices and not owned by any one vendor. He thinks that has exciting possibilities for building design.

“A lot of this technology has been out there for a while,” he explains. “It’s just that it was for video games, but now the technology is actually being brought into the engineering design environment.”

Gary expects virtual building designs to become even more immersive and realistic, giving clients exciting ways to experience and visualize their projects.


Everything is destined for the cloud

Another key message was that cloud-based technologies will become increasingly important as more processes and workflows are moved to the cloud. Gary explains this will go beyond just logging in and working on files or collaborating on projects.

“What I found out from AU is now there are actual cloud-based computers, so you’re logging into the cloud and you’re working from there. So, the computer at your desk doesn’t have to be a powerhouse computer anymore because you just need it to log in, and then you’re as fast as your Internet.”

He says that means, in the future, companies like CIMA+ won’t have to buy costly high-powered design computers to do 3D animations, renderings and virtual reality. “Now, we can actually put it on the cloud and run it that way.”


Innovation in action

Innovative ideas are already at work at CIMA+. We’re using advanced technologies like virtual reality to revolutionize the design review process in some of our major projects like this wastewater treatment plant in Ontario.

Our teams have also designed technology solutions that help them work more efficiently. For example, this plugin for Autodesk Revit streamlines the rebar specification process in building design.


Empowering a new generation of innovators

Gary’s vision is strengthening the innovation culture here at CIMA+, but his inspiring attitude has also had an impact closer to home.

About nine years ago, when his son Justin decided to join the AEC industry as well, Gary advised him to stay up-to-date on new technologies, keep learning and find a company that encourages innovative ideas.

Justin took his father’s advice. “That’s why he works for CIMA+ now,” Gary chuckles.

Gary says embracing innovation isn’t only about being on the leading edge – it’s about delivering more value to clients and working more efficiently. That’s why he is committed to fostering innovation wherever he can and supporting the next generation of CIMA+ innovators.

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