The Great Connector of the Sydney Bluebeam User Group

A SydBUG Champion believes empowerment leads to opportunity and change
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“You’ve got to find a common language, even when cultures or backgrounds are completely different. It’s about connecting and having a conversation about things that relate to what you do; and it’s also about trying to give them a positive view because empowerment can lead to opportunity and change,” says Russell Bunn, Australian native and regional CAD leader of Australasia transport, environment and resources at Arup. He is referring to outreach efforts with Australia’s Indigenous community, in which he seeks to create career opportunities within the architectural, engineering and construction industry as a path of employment. His commitment to social progression is more than admirable, considering these efforts are a byproduct of his own unpaid efforts. By trade he is a regional CAD leader, by destiny, he is a connector, of people and ideas, and one compelled to do so in every facet of his life for the greater good. He believes the sharing of ideas can only improve things, within culture—as well as industry.

In addition to his Indigenous outreach, another outlet for Bunn’s constant drive for progression lies within his role as a Bluebeam User Group Champion for the Sydney-based user group, affectionately known as “SydBUG.” Russell uses the same passion for relatable experiences and positive learning approaches that he extolls within the Indigenous outreach activities he participates in to unite industry under the umbrella of Bluebeam end users. A technician with over 20 years in consulting, Bunn understands that by forming creative environments and open channels of communication, you can drive industry to become a community that sees a bigger picture as a collective. “In working for Arup, I give them the best opportunity and try to provide for them the best tools that I can from the industry,” he says. “But I recognize that in our industry, which is becoming more and more connected, we’re no longer siloed little groups that produce a deliverable and hand it over. We’re all part of a big connected space.”

Making connections

That connected space is much more open and the capabilities to enable sharing far more available, thanks to the global developments and adoption of digital solutions for consulting and construction professionals. He has seen this technology become the conduit of progression and advancement within Australia over the past decade. “For my career, when I’ve done design work, it’s always been in a digital space. I suppose what we haven’t been in is that integrated digital space, where things are shared and there’s transfer and sharing. And I think that’s really not taken off until more recently, when computing became mobile and that mobile technology was applicable.”

‘I think it’s looking at the bigger picture. What are the wider implications of what I do? Having that holistic approach, and I apply that to the BUG. I also apply that to some of the Indigenous engagement activities that I’m doing and they’re the same—we try to keep all our conversations very positive.’

Russell Bunn, SydBUG Champion and Regional CAD Leader of Australasia Transport, Environment and Resources at Arup

As the industry looks to the future, the siloed competitive business advantage is starting to disappear, and those who look for the collaborative approach are seeing tangible returns and rewards. Modern construction projects are data-rich, integrated, collaborative efforts, where project stakeholders from different general contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, and trades workers converge to produce the best product for their clients. This means working together to find common ground in the form of document formats, data, and standardized ways of working. In short, if you can find a better way of doing something, you do it and your share it with others, according to Bunn.

“Where we started using Bluebeam, it wasn’t actually to do markups, it was just actually to print PDFs.” That quickly changed as Bunn’s line of work entails linear infrastructure delivery, which can yield massive PDFs with 4,000 drawings across hundreds of gigabytes. Those massive PDFs were Bunn’s introduction to Bluebeam Revu, and the digital solutions within Revu opened doors for digital collaboration and information sharing that changed his previous workflows for the better. “I was at an event at Centre Point Tower presented by A2K and Shanoc Halliday. There were many moments that morning which were the catalyst for us to go back to the office and look much further than simplistic printing workflows.”

Moving forward

These same “light bulb moments” now serve as the fuel for leading the SydBUG in curriculum and evangelism. “You’ve got these different ways of using [Revu] … it makes for a really exciting discussion. And most people do walk away with a bit of a light bulb moment of some description from the meeting going, ‘Oh. That’s really cool how each person does this.’” As the SydBUG heads towards its sixth meeting, it’s clear that Bunn’s passion for connecting people and sharing ideas is generating those light bulb moments on a global basis. “Sydney can be a very difficult place to travel around, as most big cities, so we’re having the meetings on Skype, as well as at the physical location. We tried it in March 2019, which was really well received as Nathan Wood from Denver discussed the PDF standards initiatives from the Construction Progress Coalition. Nicolas, from Robert Bird Group, did a fantastic presentation on 3D reviews. In our June meeting, we had a very insightful presentation from Deepak Maini from Cadgroup on tips and tricks. While Deepak’s presentation did focus on a variety of tools, it created so many moments where you went, ‘Oh.’ There was a lot of light bulb moments that night with people going, “Oh. That’s amazing.” I totally didn’t realize that this little group could open all these doors.”

From cobbling together a few people at Arup in Sydney in mid 2018, to having nearly 40 registrations for the most recent SydBUG meeting, it is clear that Bunn’s work commitment to bringing people together, generating new ideas, and sharing information is alive and well. “I’d certainly like to grow it into having more university-level involvement as a gateway for students to learn and understand about Bluebeam, but then also to meet and have the ability to connect and network with potential employers. Maybe they can also connect with people who they may be able to interact with in say a research kind of way.” For the SydBUG, the possibilities are limitless; so too is Bunn’s unwavering commitment to making human connections that foster a better tomorrow and shape a better world.