Gabriel Neves, Technical Manager at Trimble, has grown into his profession – and together with it. He’s seen the construction industry evolve from handmade drawings to 2D to 3D software, yet he’s still (and always!) curious about what will happen next.
Gabriel Neves has left many times in his life. If he feels like he isn’t progressing and bettering himself, be it at a workplace, school, or anywhere else, he decides to jump onto another path that might offer more exciting – yet challenging - opportunities. This courageous trait has taken him to, in addition to various adventures, many life-changing transitions in his career.
“That’s one thing that’s really a part of my personality,” he says laughingly. “I never ever stop learning, I’m always studying and practicing something new. When I don’t know something, I ask, and sometimes I ask even if I know.”
Neves noticed his limitless hunger for knowledge while working as a draftsman in his native Portugal. In the 1980s, construction drawings took a lot, lot longer than today. Each bridge project included around 25 drawings, and the customer always wanted 10 to 20 copies of each.
“We had to think carefully before putting a pen on paper, as erasing had to be done with a razor blade. We had no gadgets whatsoever.”
When the first CAD PC arrived in the office, Neves wasn’t allowed to use it. He was told the company needed him to work by hand – and he, in turn, decided it was time to leave.
Diving deep into BIM and BrIM
After quitting his job, Neves worked as a freelance CAD drafter, learning new tricks and working long hours fueled by coffee.
“Working on my own, I was able to use technology to support my work. Many companies were stuck in the past and short-sighted, as they weren’t implementing technologies.”
After going back to a day job as an engineering consultant in 1992, Neves could see technology advance in huge leaps. He was enthusiastic about it, but also frustrated because he wasn’t able to tap into the technologies’ full potential.
“The hardware developed immensely over the years, and I knew the industry was moving from 2D to 3D, although the word BIM (Building Information Modeling) wasn’t used as yet,” he recalls. “Unfortunately, my boss told me to continue as usual. I wanted to move on to 3D and BIM to deliver better results to clients and contractors.”
Throughout the years old ways of working remained, and Neves knew that if he didn’t make the call, he’d find himself in the same spot in ten years’ time. So he left – again – this time to Scotland, where he really embraced the opportunities of BIM.
Soon, Neves noticed how much BIM and BrIM (BIM for bridges) actually benefit construction projects. They aren’t just pretty pictures: the software, including all object attributes, improve constructibility significantly.
“I love to learn, so it was a fun time. I noticed that it’s pointless to create data that isn’t shared, and the silo attitude is non-existent in the new world of BIM and BrIM.”
Tekla Structures changed everything
One day, a colleague from Finland introduced Neves to Tekla Structures. He couldn’t quite believe his eyes.
“One software for the entire workflow and all the materials? Models to build? Attributes to control site management? It was the happiest day of my professional life,” he remembers rejoicing.
Despite the pain points at the time, Neves was convinced that Tekla Structures was the best way forward. Slowly and surely, “like a Trojan horse”, Neves started to push the tool into construction projects – and soon enough, his team was no longer given any work to be done in 2D. He was able to improve constructibility, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of his projects with accurate, rich and accumulating data.
In 2018, Neves was offered a chance to work with Tekla in Finland, which he happily accepted. For once, he’s at the forefront of the developments of BIM and BrIM, which he sees growing into more and more collaborative and analytical tools for all construction project parties.
“In 30 years, everyone will be doing BIM; but the next small step is to connect those doing it already,” he predicts.
A never-ending story
Recently, Neves has also understood that his personal career development has progressed in line with the industry, from handcraft to 2D to 3D and beyond. This phase, he thinks, closes his story: now he’s found a place where he can constantly develop, so there should never be a reason to leave again.
“But the story of BIM and BrIM is not ending here,” he emphasizes. “I will never say we’ve reached a point where there’s no more need for development, as the software is constantly improving.”
Neves also points out that industry leaders are all already using BIM.
“The leaders of the market must be doing something right, otherwise they wouldn’t be where they are now. And neither would I!”