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From Seattle to Chicago, Hackathon still gaining 'Mo'

From Seattle to Chicago, Hackathon still gaining 'Mo'

by Matt Abeles

No caffeine required. When the AEC Hackathon brought just its third raucous road show to the famed birthplace of Starbucks earlier this month, the wild, 36-hour event seemed like a natural to be coffee-fueled. But to be honest, there was already enough energy on hand to light up the Pacific Northwest, with or without the real java beans.

As an invited guest representing Burnham Works, I felt privileged indeed to be part of such a truly unique experience, hosted by the University of Washington's Pacific Northwest Center for Construction Research and Education. Despite the tight time frame, or more likely because of it, industry leaders with problems they needed solved came together with some of the brightest developers and programmers in the tech world to create some amazing solutions for the AEC community.

Software firms like CREATE (, which helps investors evaluate properties, were able to team up with weekend partners like Smart Tech to transfer data onto a giant smart screen to makes building information interactive and responsive to touch. Meanwhile, representatives of Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction worked with sensory technology to create a prototype that tracks and manages its tools on the job site. Inside, AutoDesk, QualComm, and Fathom were among the presenters. Outside, Revit demonstrated drones flying overhead, following coordinates supplied by a BIM model.

In all, teams competed, joked with each other and developed a camaraderie that filled the air. "The energy and excitement at these events are always inspiring," said Damon Hernandez, a San Francisco-based Web3D developer and co-founder of the Hackathon.

Hernandez told me that he is now particularly enthused to bring the Hackathon to Chicago for the first time next spring. I certainly share his excitement since Burnham Works, itself, will be hosting this collaborative lollapalooza next, March 6-8, right here in our own unique space at 1130 W. Monroe in Chicago's vibrant West Loop.

Prior to Seattle, the previous two AEC Hackathons had only been held at Facebook’s Headquarters in Silicon Valley. So we are truly honored to be able to join that exclusive list. We hope many of you will be able to join us next March, as well. 

"I come to the AEC Hackathon for networking, and seeing new ideas," said Willard Williams of Ronin Architects, Redwood City CA. "It's an event that brings not just IT guys, but scientists, designers, architects, all together. It's a unique event that exists nowhere else." 

Next March, that event will exist only at Burnham Works.

Please stay tuned for more details...




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