The goal is to figure out how to keep the “MineCraft Generation” building and building.
The tech industry worries a lot about its pipeline. “Are there enough developers?” “Is talent too expensive?” “How do we get children interested in STEM?”
But, comparatively, it’s doing just fine. Tech jobs and tech salaries are growing quarterly, almost exponentially. However, the industry that’s responsible for literal pipelines, the $7 trillion construction space, is having a real pipeline problem.
“The average age in the sheet metal industry is 46 years old,” said BuiltWorlds co-founder Matt Abeles. “We need to get more people excited about construction.”
And it’s that need for excitement that led to the creation of BuiltWorlds, a Chicago-based community, media platform, and network aimed at bridging the gap between technology and construction. Abeles co-founded BuiltWorlds with Matt Gray, co-chair of leading construction firm Graycor, who saw the need for a more entrepreneurial, collaboratively-minded industry first hand.
Together, the two launched Burnham Works, which was originally conceived as a “living forum” for discussing and discovering innovations within design and construction. But like the site’s namesake, Daniel Burnham, who once famously advised to ‘Make No Little Plans,’ Abeles and Gray realized that their core mission – to connect and educate two communities – extended beyond just construction and to the entire built environment. (For the unfamiliar, the ‘built environment‘ encapsulates the people, industries, and organizations responsible for anything “human-made,” which includes architecture, engineering, interior design, landscaping, urban planning, smart cities, and more).
To act as a bridge for tech and the built environment, BuiltWorlds added veteran construction journalist Rob McManamy to lead its content strategy and began hosting and organizing focused events, like Robots to the Rescue, which explored the evolution of unmanned vehicles. Today, the West Loop-based team has grown to 12 and they’ve thrown over 25 events, including a Demo Night at Texas A&M and an MCAA Tech Toy Chest meetup in Cleveland. The company has also assembled vast amounts of educational materials, including research reports, white papers, e-books, and presentations.
“Our goal is to just start the conversation,” said Abeles. “And we’ll do that in any way that we can, through stories or events or workshops. We’re bringing a siloed industry of architects and technologists together; that’s never been done before.”
Already, BuildWorlds is starting to see its community-first approach pay off. For example, two prototypes that were developed at the AEC (Archictecture, Engineering, Construction) Hackathon that the company co-hosted in March are still being used in the field today. “We’ve had 104 different companies be a part of our events,” said Abeles. “They’re coming to us; they want to understand what technologies will help them do what they’re doing better and then we make the connection.”
And though BuiltWorlds has been warmly welcomed by the industry that it’s targeting – the company already has over 50 partners and sponsors – they understand that it still needs to usher new people into the pipeline, as well.
Added McManamy, “There is a massive, demographic and generational shift ongoing and our world needs to be rebuilt ASAP, but smarter and more sustainably. And to do that, the AEC community desperately needs to attract many, many more young people. Technology is the draw. The goal is to figure out how to keep the MineCraft generation building and building, well into adulthood, and onto retirement.”
(Image via BuiltWorlds)