Design is as much a science as it is an art. Photo courtesy of CIVE

The method of value engineering, where less expensive materials and methods are used without sacrificing functionality, certainly has its benefits.

While you must weigh the pros and cons of using it in each unique situation, the experts at CIVE are ready to lay out the overall argument for value engineering. The Houston-based, engineering-driven design build firm serves residential, commercial, and industrial markets, and relies on a commitment to excellence in all projects.

Its mantra — "Any engineer can create a design, but true expertise lies in creating designs that would incur the least cost possible, without compromising integrity of the structure" — reinforces that design is as much a science as it is an art.

Why should value engineering be used?
Value engineering allows commercial developers the capability to obtain more value for their design, contracting, and build-outs. This process not only helps provide advantages for the initial construction, but also add value on a longer term basis.

The initial costs of building a structure only accounts for 11 percent of the overall building costs of its life cycle. While that number may seem small, if this capital allocation is done incorrectly it can significantly impact the lifespan and ongoing maintenance costs that building owners can experience.

Value engineering provides great advantages to building owners and ultimately their tenants with a better quality structure. But let's be clear: The objective of value engineering is not to cut costs or to lower standards, but to provide innovative approaches and help identify ways to improve dependability, functionality, and performance.

When should it be used?
The process of value engineering can be applied in areas where a construction team typically experiences delays or excessive costs to help identify and alleviate the problem. The end result is a more efficient process that can reduce waste, rework, and design modifications that can significantly increase a project budget and/or cause schedule delays.

A few of the benefits
The benefits of value engineering are numerous, but in summary they can assist construction projects by:

  • Reducing expenses
  • Minimizing waste
  • Refining the project scope
  • Increasing stakeholder consensus
  • Maintaining budget allocations

Overall, this adds more value to the building owner with more savings over the lifetime of a structure with enhanced functionality. A company well versed in the practice of value engineering can use it to finish a project on time and on budget for their clients.

Implementing value engineering
Here's some good news: value engineering can be done at any part of the commercial construction process. While it would ideally be incorporated into the initial stages, it can be easily adapted to improve a project stage at any point. The design phase allows the architect or engineer to work with the client to come up with required features, functionality, and proposed solutions.

During the planning stage the general contractor and commercial developer come to an agreement on the expected project cost. The third stage of development is the construction phase, when the building takes place and any proposed changes can be included that don't affect the primary function and design of the structure.

Why it works
Unlike most, CIVE identifies value engineering as not merely a tool to cut corners, but a way to truly and effectively deliver engineering excellence by designing to the last inch — without over-designing or jeopardizing integrity of the structure — that can put redundant budget pressures on projects.

CIVE's ability to truly value engineer each of its projects comes with experience and technical expertise, which has saved its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment capital over time.

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TMCx names 9 health tech startups to its 2020 cohort

X-CITING NEWS

Now, more than ever, is time to think about the future of health care. Lucky for the Texas Medical Center, they've been doing that for years with their accelerator program, TMCx, which has just announced its latest cohort of health tech startups.

After redesigning the program, TMCx has been reimagined to better connect the startups and technology to TMC's member institutions. New this year was a bootcamp, in which 19 companies were invited to the TMC Innovation Institute in February to engage in programming with the TMCx team and TMC members.

"Bootcamp went off without a hitch," says Lance Black, associate director of TMCx, on a recent episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "And the companies all got something meaningful out of it and we were actually very surprised with the reaction and response we got from our member institutions."

The goal of the bootcamp was to connect the 19 potential cohort members to the TMC community to see which companies the health care institutions gravitated toward for potential relationships, such as a pilot program, clinical trial, or a joint development opportunity, for instance, Black says on the episode.

Black says his team took into consideration all of the feedback and selected nine startups to be a part of the cohort. At this point, with the COVID-19-caused travel issues and closures, face-to-face interaction in the program has been postponed, but the accelerator will start of virtually.

"Out of respect for our hospitals and member institutions, we want to delay the physical presence of the companies in Houston," Black says in the episode. "But that doesn't mean we're not able to call or virtually meet with the companies. There's a lot of pre-work we can do in order to prep the companies appropriately so that when they do have meetings face to face, they can put their best foot forward."

Here are the nine startups selected to be a part of the TMCx 2020 cohort:

  • San Francisco-based Atlas Health — connecting patients with payment resources
  • San Francisco-based DeepScribe — autonomous medical scribe
  • Los Angeles-based Elly Health — live healthier through positivity
  • San Francisco-based Ferrum Health — reduce preventable medical errors
  • Toronto-based HelpWear — clinical grade wearable heart monitor
  • London-based Lantum — total workforce solution for healthcare
  • Denver-based Manatee — connected, everyday therapy for kids
  • Copenhagen-based Radiobotics — automate analysis of routine medical X-rays
  • Evanston, Illinois-based Rhaeos — wearable shunt monitor (Rhaeos previously won fourth place in the 2019 Rice Business Plan Competition.)

Another major Houston conference cancels due to COVID-19

OTC offline

First, CERAWeek announced it would not take place in early March — and SWSW followed suit, as did Rodeo Houston. The spiral of canceled events and conferences continues as the annual Offshore Technology Conference has been canceled.

Every year in Houston, thousands of visitors from some 100 countries around the world descend on NRG Park for the massive expo, which has been a mainstay since 1969, attracted more than 60,000 attendees two years ago, along with more than 2,300 exhibitors — all who come to celebrate the oil and gas industry and its impact on the local economy.

The annual oil and gas event is a significant boon to the local economy, as industry regulars, investors, and entrepreneurs pack our hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The OTC has spawned OTC Brazil, OTC Asia, and even the Arctic Technology Conference. The event has been dubbed the "South by Southwest for offshore" by local insiders.

But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials at OTC announced that the 2020 conference — initially postponed until August or September — is canceled. Organizers, already looking ahead, have announced that plans will commence for OTC 2021 in Houston from May 3-6, 2021.

"Amid continued health and travel concerns during this uncertain time, the OTC Board of Directors felt this decision was the most feasible and responsible for staff, exhibitors, partners, attendees, and the Houston community," organizers said, in a release.

"As we navigate these difficult and uncertain times, it is with a heavy heart that the OTC Board of Directors has determined that it is in our best interest to cancel OTC 2020. Our priority is the health and safety of our attendees and exhibitors, and we have taken federal, state, and local guidelines into account in making our decision," said Cindy Yeilding, OTC chairperson, in a statement.

For those involved in the conference, a call for papers will be open on May 28. Event updates will be posted on the official website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

Who's who

This week's Houston innovators to know include a blockchain expert with insight on how COVID-19 is affecting supply chain, a Houston tech leader with a logistics software solution, and a streamable story on cancer treatment innovation.

Kim Raath, CEO and co-founder of Topl

Photo courtesy of Topl

Amid the negativity the COVID-19 news, one Houston startup had an exciting announcement. It reworked its C-suite and Kim Raath, who just finished Ph.D in statistics and a Master's in economics at Rice University, has transitioned into the CEO role. Raath and her co-founders, James Aman and Chris Georgen, recently convened to re-envision the company's next phase.

"It was definitely a cool experience for us as founders to go through together, but I'm glad that all three of us came out of this excited about what we're doing moving forward," says Raath. Read more.

Gaurav Khandelwal, CEO and founder of ChaiOne

Photo courtesy of ChaiOne

Houston tech company ChaiOne recently announced the soft launch of Velostics, the "slack" for logistics that solve wait times and cash flow challenges in the supply chain and logistics industry. The digital logistics platform is set to aid the struggling supply chain as surging demands stretch suppliers, offering their platform free for 60 days.

"At ChaiOne we have a history of helping Houstonians whenever disaster strikes," says CEO and founder, Gaurav Khandelwal. "We created a disaster connect app during Hurricane Harvey for free that connected people with the resources they need. Velostics by pure happenstance happened to be ready for situations like [the coronavirus] when there's a lot of parties that need to collaborate." Read more.

James Allison, chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Jim Allison MD Anderson

Photo courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center

In a time when our health care heroes are serving on the front lines of the coronavirus, it's a great reminder of the work they all do round — from the research labs and academic institutions to the patient rooms. Jim Allison, a researcher in immunotherapy for MD Anderson Cancer Center recently took home the Nobel Prize for his work. He went on to be the subject of a documentary that premiered at SXSW last year, and that film will be coming to a TV near you.

Jim Allison: Breakthrough premieres on Independent Lens at 9 pm Monday, April 27, on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App. Read more.