Countdown begins for BuiltWorlds’ 2nd AEC Hackathon

Sails have been sighted and preparations ashore have begun. Yes, the great pirate ship AEC Hackathon once again is poised to drop anchor at BuiltWorlds in just 26 days.

Okay, let us dispense with the pirate puns. (Methinks we’ve exhausted that meme.)

But the AEC Hackathon, itself, is far from exhausted. On the contrary, the popular and productive collaborative pressure cooker actually does seem to be changing our industry for the better — hack by hack, little by little, city by city. On Aug. 5-7, after stops over the last 17 months in London, New York, Helsinki, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia, and later this month, Singapore, the AEC Hackathon (Version 3.5), will return to Chicago for just the second time. And once again, BuiltWorlds will be the host.


“Hosting the AEC Hackathon last year was easily the highlight of our first year in business,” says BW co-founder Matt Abeles. “So we could not be more thrilled to have it back under our roof, especially now that we have so much more room in our new offices.”

Adding to his excitement is the very real virtues of the AEC Hackathon mission, itself. “The best thing about these is that they bring actual competitors together to solve shared tech problems,” adds Abeles. “They work together over an intense but fun weekend to come up with solutions that serve the industry as a whole. And the winning hacks are always open-sourced and made available to everyone.”

That really is the raison d’être for both the event and the nonprofit behind it.

“I can’t think of a better environment where AEC professionals and technologists can come together to build community and create solutions for the industry by those in the industry,” wrote founder Damon Hernandez in the fall of 2013, explaining why he and some tech star friends had launched the event. Those friends included experienced AEC technologists Paul Doherty, Greg Howes, Christopher Peri, Justin Quimby, and Michael Shaw.



Both Hernandez and smart cities globetrotter Doherty (who just started a new BIM firm in Chicago) will be on hand, as well as representatives of Pepper ConstructionAutodesk BIM 360, Caterpillar, ProcoreGilbane Building Co., Hard Hat Hub, and more. Last year, participants and speakers joined us from such firms as Whiting-TurnerClaycoMortenson Construction, Walsh Construction, Thornton TomasettiBluebeam, GraycorSWC Technology PartnersMaster Graphics, and Engage Civil.

NOTE: Some hackathons in some cities are 24-hour affairs. Ours is a 25-hour event spread across three days. The event will kick off at 6 pm, Friday, Aug. 5., and run until midnight that night. After an opening get-acquainted cocktail hour, attendees will gather in one seating area to listen to opening remarks and then begin the interactive process of suggesting tech problems that many agree need fixing. Once five or six problems are decided upon, groups holistically form around members who share a given concern. The teams then will huddle together in different corners of the building and then start mapping out how they will tackle their specific problems before presenting solutions to our guest judges at noon Sunday, Aug. 7. In between, the first floor of the BW offices will be open and available for the teams to use on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 9 am until midnight, and finally, from 10 am to 2 pm, on Sunday.

At most hackathons, local college students, teachers, coders, developers, programmers, volunteers and other observers invariably show up (possible lured by free pizza). “The beauty of these events is that each one is so different, but all have the same goal of improving our industry,” says Doherty. “And each one actually has accomplished that goal, believe it or not. Some more than others, of course. But each one has made at least a small contribution for the better.”

So, how will AEC Hackathon 3.5 help this industry?

Stay tuned. Or sign up, yourself, and see if you can make your own contribution to the answer.

Q&A from AEC

About the hack

The AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) Hackathon was created to give those designing, building, and maintaining our built environment the opportunity to collaborate with cutting edge technologies and its developers and designers. It’s a weekend of geeking at its finest for improving the industries that affect all that live or work in a house or building. It has quickly become a global community of innovators that include all elements of the built environment.

The weekend gives attendees the chance to be exposed to and work with the latest high tech tools provided by supporters, sponsors, and fellow community members. Not all built environment professionals must code or possess much tech background. Just come with your knowledge, an open mind, collaborative spirit, and willingness to solve M-F problems leveraging all kinds of technology.


The project that really hits the mark on execution, utility, and technical merits.

The project that solves a big problem for a built environment profession.

The best application using city data with open standards based frameworks and technologies.

Projects must be from prior AEC Hackathons, or from our community’s open source projects here to qualify. Keep the innovation going!