12 Questions with Murat Melek
Welcome to 12 Questions, a Q&A series where we pose the same set of 12 questions to intriguing folks at the intersection of insurance, risk management, commercial real estate, and digital innovation.
Suggest someone we should feature next.
This week, we chat with Murat Melek, Design Manager at Walter P Moore. He's also a licensed structural engineer and a data scientist.
1. What is the most interesting idea you’ve encountered in your world lately?
Technological leaps in robotics and 3D printing and their potential impact on the construction industry. I am intrigued to see how much of our long-standing design practices will evolve to adapt to these new technologies. In addition, advance of robotics with affordable and fast IoT devices will have an impact on how we monitor and mitigate risk in built environments. At Walter P Moore, we are working on products that utilize these advancements.
2. Where do you think no one is looking right now?
Although we are starting to see platforms that are being developed for the AEC industry, I feel like we are still working in silos. Fusing macro parameters (e.g. material cost data) with domain-specific options (e.g. structural or façade system) to come up with designs optimized for specific targets (e.g. resilience, sustainability, reduced construction schedule) should be our target.
3. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?
The project delivery process. The current approach from the initiation of a development project to its construction is not a straight data creation and transmission pipeline. There are too many repetitive steps along the way that are not necessarily resulting in the most resilient, cost-effective, or sustainable solution.
4. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Seeing workflows and tools developed as a team being used by colleagues for meaningful and impactful work.
5. What do you envision the next 12 months will bring?
Economic slowdown and its impact on the construction industry will potentially make the AEC companies focus on improving efficiency. I am optimistic that in the next 12 months, we will see more products that instigate efficient data transmission pipelines between stakeholders.
6. What’s your favorite building?
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. It has been standing on a highly seismic location for give or take 1,500 years. It is a brilliant architectural and engineering achievement. On a human level, you can feel the marvel of this when you step under its dome.
7. Please dispel a myth or misconception about your work.
Designing a building to the Building Code requirements does not guarantee that the building is going to be resilient.
8. What are the tools, apps, or gadgets that you just can’t live without?
I am a big fan of PyCharm. Excalidraw, which is an interactive whiteboard tool, is coming very handy for creating quick sketches. Also, Bokeh (Python library) for web-based interactive visualizations.
9. What’s your biggest pleasant surprise related to remote work?
I have been working remotely for the past seven years, so not much has changed.
10. What’s your favorite productivity tip for staying motivated and getting work done?
Sometimes having a background music helps me get into the flow. I would also recommend reading Deep Work by Cal Newport.
11. What or who do you read/watch etc to keep informed?
- NPR's Planet Money - I recommend the episodes Terms of Service and Big Government Cheese. They tend to update and rebroadcast their old episodes, so if you are a new listener, you can always jump in at the latest episode.
- Twitter to get latest updates on data visualization, digitalization in AEC field and news.
12. Nominate 2 people who should answer this next. Why?
Andy Thompson, cofounder and CEO of Safehub, a company that provides real-time building-specific earthquake damage information.
Henry V Burton of the UCLA Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, a leading researcher on application of machine learning on infrastructure risk management.
Suggest someone we should feature next.
Written by Murat Melek
Design manager in Walter P Moore's Washington DC office. Murat's interests lie in the intersection of structural/earthquake engineering domain and digital domain. He is a licensed structural engineer with a doctorate degree on Structural Engineering from UCLA and masters degree on Data Science from UC Berkeley.