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Mad Scientist and Minion Developer Join Read|Thomas


CHARLOTTE, NC—When you need save time and money on the most complex projects in the world in real-time it’s all about Game Engines. And two of the most experienced people in the world are Pat Carmichael and Chris Roberts.

“The largest building projects in the world are not buildings. They’re entire campuses. Stadiums. Entire airports. Even city models.” says Pat Carmichael. “We’ve been doing what everybody else has been trying to do for the last 10 year. And we’re not slowing down - we’re stepping on the gas!”

Stepping on the gas is a fitting metaphor for both Pat and Chris. When not behind their high end computer workstations they’re likely to to be behind the wheel their very fast and classic automobiles. Pat’s heavily modified ’69 Porsche 912 redlines at around 8000rpm. Roberts inherited his fathers graduation present: a ‘66 Ford Mustang that Chris restored over a five year effort he started in 2007. Roberts started by disassembling the muscle car all the way down to the frame.

“Whether it’s restoring classic cars or writing computer software, doing it right is always pays off in the long run.” Carmichael and Roberts continue, “Shoddy work costs more time and money and then leaves you stranded. Same goes for software!”

Fluent in a number of programing languages Roberts recalls programming in middle school in the early ’80’s on a TI-994A before moving on to writing Basic on Commodore 64.

“As long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed the satisfaction of making something for myself,” says Roberts.

Pat laughs and recalls it wasn’t easy to pursue software programming while studying Architecture in the mid-’70’s. He had to request special permission from the Chair of the Architecture Program to take computer courses. “It’s hard to imagine now but at that time computer programming was considered irrelevant to studying architecture,” states Carmichael.

Before Carmichael could graduate he realized his professional experience during high school and college already qualified him for registration. So he left college and entered architectural practice in 1977. He began using the McAuto Drafting System by McDonnell Douglas the same year. By ’84 he was using AutoCAD. By ’86 he was modeling in 3D with CATIATM based tools and 3D Studio.

“I believe I created the first million polygon model in 1993 using DOS version of 3D Studio. It was a model of an oil rig used to demonstrate a fully automated drilling system,” claims Carmichael. But it’s not about 3D or any one technology. “It’s about elegantly solving problems - something the client always understands.”

Another milestone? Cross-platform collaboration was practically non-existent. Seizing the opportunity, Carmichael began writing conversion software for early early CAD platforms.

“A lot of people would describe me as impatient. I suppose I don’t like the part of Architecture where the longer and harder you work the less you’re compensated,” says Carmichael who started working for himself in ’83.

Carmichael and Roberts met in the fall of 1998 about the time Pat began focusing on the potential of using real-time game engines for AEC projects. Through their collaboration they overcame the challenge of displaying actual geometry rather than use materials - a technique commonly used in games in order to improve performance. As a result, their real-time environments are frequently 100X more geometrically detailed than the most complex games.

By the fall of 2002 both were ultimately convinced to join Dallas based HKS. Over the next decade they focused their efforts on every aspect of professional practice leveraging Epic GamesTM Unreal EngineTM. “Lighting, sound, movement, animation, entourage and more in real-time - our performance is order of magnitude better than anything out there,” states Carmichael. “But success is more than selecting the right technology; it takes the right team. The Unreal platform is backed by hundreds of titles, thousands of developers and $100million in annual revenue. And their headquarters are in Cary, NC - just up the road from Charlotte.”

Speaking of choosing the right team: Why Read | Thomas? “Chris and I have carefully considered a lot of offers,” says Carmichael. “We ultimately wanted to part of a team that understands the challenges of AEC industry workflow and appreciates entrepreneurism. Our core technology and experience are just spokes of endeavors and AEC is our closest solar system.”

Phil Read and Adam Thomas of Read | Thomas are incredibly honored to have Pat and Chris on board. According to Read, “I’ve been following their extraordinary work for over a decade. Their project and client list second to none. Adam and I can’t overstate the wonderful respect we have for them. Their experience and accomplishments are clearly unique in the AEC industry.”

Near term, Pat and Chris will continue Real-Time as a Service. Next? Developing the Easy Button from AutodeskTM RevitTM to UnrealTM has been on Carmichael’s mind a lot lately. “It’s about the choosing the right technology and team - but it’s also about timing,” reflects Carmichael. “I’m convinced it’s time to democratize real-time visualization, simulation and operations for the AEC industry.” 

About Read|Thomas LLC

Read | Thomas is an independent AECO consulting group focused on connecting designers, builders and owners through BIM - Building Information Modeling - technologies. The founders have successfully worked nationally and internationally on some of the largest and most complex building projects in the world.

Contact [email protected] or [email protected] for any inquires and be sure to talk to us at Autodesk University in a week!

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