I’m an employee of a US state department of transportation and am pretty well-versed in FOSS (or is it FLOSS now?), Linux, software dev, 3D, data science, etc… I’m also a licensed professional engineer in transportation (civil) engineering, for whatever that means to anyone here.
So I have a rather involved issue I’m trying to work out. I apologize for the length of the post, but it’s necessary for the back story.
Specifically,where I work, we’re slowly moving into developing 3D models for highway construction projects, because contractors can now program their earthmoving equipment to function on GPS coordinates and digital terrain models (DTMs). The general contractors lobbied the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to force the state DOTs to start producing their highway plans as 3D models instead of the 2D paper plans we currently use. That’s not bad, because that means we now do engineering in 3D. No one likes change, but I see it as a really good thing.
Anyway, because of my tech-saviness (relative to those I work with, anyway), I was given some responsibility to figure out how to do 3D transportation modeling. It’s been a lot of fun, but things got really interesting for me just in the last few days.
I was asked by the head-honcho of our district (you can think of him as maybe almost a CEO) to come up with a series of job descriptions and staff requirements necessary to do 3D modeling and visualization where we work - like a crack team that strictly focuses on that alone. Right now, that looks like maybe a team of two people, of which I plan to be one.
But I’m interested in doing more than just that. Really, the 3D thing is cool, but I’m more of a maker mentality. I’d like to create a work unit that’s more of a technology / innovation unit than one that just focus on CAD-related stuff. I’ve done this sort of thing before, for example, by providing wireless internet access to traffic signal controllers and interacting with them through a legacy, DOS / serial-based control software, back when I was the District’s traffic signal systems engineer.
So I’d like to foster that sort of culture where I work - thinking outside the box to come up with ways to solve problems using cool technology (open source, where possible, of course). I don’t mean that everyone needs to think that way - government engineers like their boxes, to be sure. But I’d like to at least create a pocket of culture where it’s ok to do that and where we have the opportunity and freedom to experiment.
I really wish I could be more specific, but I don’t know what, exactly, I would get specific about at this point. Really, I’m trying to flesh out ideas of how I might pitch this new work unit to encompass more than just 3D visualization. It may seem a bit beyond the scope of what’s been proposed thus far, but this is a really key moment in our history as an organization to really move into a more innovative / exploratory role in technology and I’d like to capitalize on that. I just need to know how to make a good pitch to our upper management.
Anyway, I apologize again for the length and general vagueness of the question, but being a Bad Voltage listener, it seemed like this might be as good a place as any to post a question like this.