“Cloud computing represents a huge technological trend towards efficiency,” explains Michael DeLacey, president and cofounder of Microdesk. “In today’s market there are a lot of high-profile projects pushing for new technology. It’s our job to facilitate that.”
DeLacey founded Microdesk with Robin Adams in 1994, and the company is now headquartered in New Hampshire with 12 offices nationwide. As an organization, it’s constantly seeking new ways to bolster efficient technological practices for architecture, engineering, and construction, meshing software from Autodesk, Oracle, Google, and Adobe with digital building methods. With recent advancements in mobile technology and cloud computing, DeLacey says, “the effects of sustainability in the AEC industry could be huge.”
DeLacey used his background in computer science and civil engineering to start working for a small Autodesk/AutoCAD retailer in 1990. “I fell in love with the product,” DeLacey says. “After working there for a few years, my business partner [Adams] and I purchased that company’s computer products division and started Microdesk.”
As computing technology speedily evolved throughout the 1990s, drafting software had the potential to become more accessible to architects and engineers, forgoing the need for paper drafting. “This was a big transition,” DeLacey says, “and the need for education and consultation services was huge.”
The back-and-forth relationship between developments in the AEC and software industries further iterates the need for companies like Microdesk, DeLacey says. “Architects and engineers know what they need—visualizations of their work—but they don’t always know how it’s possible,” he says. “Education is essential.”
For the past 18 years, education has been Microdesk’s mission. Since 2010, Microdesk has been growing 30 percent per year, and this number continues to rise. As technology and computing becomes more accessible to a wider range of people—and devices—the need for advanced technical computing education and consultation is as urgent as ever.
“It almost sounds cliché, but it’s true—the iPad has had tremendous importance,” says DeLacey, who sees the iPad as one of Apple’s greatest accomplishments because it has succeeded in bringing mobility to the masses. “There has always been a desire to get information out of the office and into the hands of the people who need it.”
These new mobile devices—iPads, iPhones, tablets, Droids—allow for seamless transition of technical information to the maintenance workers in the field.
As mobility increases, DeLacey sees Microdesk meeting a twofold need within this increased tendency toward sustainability. “It is our goal to help companies increase efficiency, and BIM is a big part of this,” DeLacey says. “It is a more efficient way to document design intent, it is a more efficient way to go through the construction process, and it provides better information to the operations and maintenance process.”
He also thinks cloud computing signifies an industry-wide trend toward operational centralization and efficiency. By concentrating all computing and storage in a cloud, information is more accessible by a wider range of devices but, on a physical scale, reduces energy expenditure.
“Computers generate a lot of heat. With cloud computing, those computers are no longer necessary,” DeLacey says. “You can take them off the floor and significantly reduce building-wide energy use.
“The goal with all of this,” he continues, “is teaching people how to fish, and not fishing for them.” Understanding and incorporating new software and technology allows Microdesk to teach others how to execute the BIM process and increase efficiency on their own terms.
“As new analysis capabilities come to bear,” DeLacey says, “and as the cloud continues to proliferate, Microdesk will continue educating and consulting with designers, contractors, and operators on how to leverage technology and boost efficiency.”