Sent From My iPad

A construction engineering manager sees a bright future for the Apple iPad in construction.

By Dave Angelotti
Guest Contributor

I’ve had my Apple iPad for a month now, and can see a lot of potential for it fitting into the digital CAD world. I hardly ever use my workstation at home, because for most of what I did, I can now do on the iPad.

The SolidWorks Labs "Drawings Now" web-based program running on an Apple iPad. Image Courtesy Graphics Systems Corp.

I have been downloading various apps that pertain to my work as an engineer, but these are limited. There is a project scheduling app, another that lets me work with spreadsheets and Word docs. I have some basic vector-based sketching programs, and even a concrete design program.

I can download various apps that give me remote desktop capabilities. So I can be somewhere and access my work network and workstation. For road warriors, this sure beats lugging the laptop.

Taken separately, this doesn’t amount to much. I think, however, that the real power of the iPad (as compared to the tablet computers of the past) is the integration with WiFi and 3G. I can be as connected as I want to be; it is basically a Blackberry on crack, and much better than the iPhone. It is also much faster at start-up than any laptop.

But I ramble.

I see the real potential for iPad as a field device. With the ability to view docs, annotate them, record notes, and so on, iPads make great field notebooks. I  think that they would also make great tools for construction support personnel. I’ve worked as a field manager for a construction management company and would have loved this for doing my daily reports. As it was, I had to walk around, take notes, and then type them into ConstructWare later.
I could download copies of many building codes and keep them in my library. This would give me simple access to most of my documentation.

goBIM is an early entry in the iPad apps for construction market. More info at

There are limitations. As of right now, the iPad doesn’t include a camera or a video camera; if it did, it would be great for showing someone something in the field.

The key in my mind is allowing people to see how the iPad functions differently than a typical computer.  Until that is understood, it is hard to see the real potential.  For me, I’m still learning.  I wish I had more computer coding background, for I can imagine many great apps.

David Angelotti has 20+ years experience as a structural engineer, construction manager, and project manager. He has often worked at the crossroads of enabling engineering work processes with technology. He is presently Engineering Manager for the Midland, Michigan office of CDI Engineering Solutions – Process & Industrial.

A version of this article originally appeared in the weekly newsletter upFront eZine and appears here by permission.