What is Feature Engineering and Why Does It Need To Be Automated?

Datanami | April 02, 2020

Artificial intelligence is becoming more ubiquitous and necessary these days. From preventing fraud, real-time anomaly detection to predicting customer churn, enterprise customers are finding new applications of machine learning every day. What lies under the hood of ML, how does this technology make predictions and which secret ingredient makes the AI magic work? In the data science community, the focus is typically on algorithm selection and model training, and indeed those are important, but the most critical piece in the AI/ML workflow is not how we select or tune algorithms but what we input to AI/ML, i.e., feature engineering. Feature engineering is the holy grail of data science and the most critical step that determines the quality of AI/ML outcomes. Irrespective of the algorithm used, feature engineering drives model performance, governs the ability of machine learning to generate meaningful insights, and ultimately solve business problems.

Spotlight

When the automated teller machine went mainstream, there was widespread fear that ATMs would automate away and displace bank tellers. But what actually happened once the dust settled on those shiny new machines? Despite predictions to the contrary, macro trends and workforce economics worked to everyone’s benefit.

Spotlight

When the automated teller machine went mainstream, there was widespread fear that ATMs would automate away and displace bank tellers. But what actually happened once the dust settled on those shiny new machines? Despite predictions to the contrary, macro trends and workforce economics worked to everyone’s benefit.

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ENGINEERING TECH

RMA Announces Merger with Western Technologies

RMA Group of Companies | January 24, 2022

RMA Group of Companies (“RMA”), a portfolio company of OceanSound Partners, announced that it has merged with Western Technologies, Inc. and Enviro-Drill, Inc. (collectively, “Western Technologies” or “WT”) to create a leading provider of technology-enabled laboratory testing, inspection, and quality management services for critical infrastructure end-markets. Ed Lyon, RMA’s President and CEO, will lead the newly combined business, supported by an experienced management team consisting of leaders from both RMA and WT. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The strategic combination of RMA and Western Technologies significantly enhances the firms’ collective service capabilities, geographic reach, and end-market expertise. The combined business will employ over 600 talented engineers, geologist, inspectors, technicians, drillers, and other professionals across nearly 20 offices in 5 states throughout the Western U.S. The additional scale will enable RMA and WT to deliver a more expansive solution set for a combined customer base of more than 1,200 infrastructure asset owners and engineering and construction companies across diverse government and commercial end-markets, including transportation, healthcare, power, and water. “The merger with Western Technologies represents a transformative milestone in RMA’s 60-year history, We are delighted to welcome all of our new colleagues from WT. With this combination, RMA gains access to a larger geographical footprint, a deeper pool of talent, and additional service offerings – including environment consulting and non-destructive testing – enabling us to better serve the combined customer base. Together, with WT, we have decades of experience as trusted advisors to our clients. Based on this rich legacy, our combined company will help our clients address increasing regulatory compliance and operating requirements by leveraging a broader portfolio of engineering services.” -Ed Lyon, RMA’s President and CEO Lyon continued, The repair, expansion, and modernization of infrastructure has become a top national priority. RMA and WT will operate as cornerstones of a national testing and inspection services platform, helping support the engineering, development, management, and maintenance of critical infrastructure assets across the country. With the support of OceanSound Partners, we expect that this merger will be the first of several transactions as we pursue an acquisition-driven growth strategy, enabling us to serve both existing and prospective clients on a national scale. As the first engineering firm in Arizona to provide materials testing and geotechnical services, WT has been a pioneer since its founding in 1955,” said Jim Warne, former President and current Vice Chairman of Western Technologies. “Since then, we have built a reputation of delivering high-quality services that meet the design or compliance requirements of infrastructure, environmental, and development projects in the Southwest. We have achieved success by fostering an entrepreneurial environment that prioritizes professional development. With our combination with RMA, we look forward to extending WT’s multi-disciplinary expertise across additional markets, accelerating growth opportunities for employees of both firms, and better serving our respective communities. “By joining forces with RMA, we are excited to leverage the best of our respective businesses, cross-sell across our markets and customer bases, and create professional opportunities for our combined workforce,” said Randy Marwig, recently appointed President of Western Technologies. “We believe our two firms have complementary services, highly compatible cultures, and a shared commitment to our clients, which will facilitate a seamless integration process for employees with zero disruption to clients. We are confident that the combination of RMA and WT will accelerate our growth and lead to long-term, sustained success.” Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal counsel to RMA. DLA Piper LLP served as legal counsel to Western Technologies. About RMA Group of Companies The RMA Group of Companies is a leading provider of technology-enabled laboratory testing, inspection, and quality management services for critical public and private infrastructure assets across diverse government and commercial end-markets, including transportation, healthcare, power, and water. RMA’s team of engineers, geologists, inspectors, and technicians help infrastructure asset owners and engineering and construction companies maintain compliance with strict regulatory and operating requirements through a range of geotechnical, environmental, and materials testing services. Founded in 1962, RMA is headquartered in Rancho Cucamonga, California. For more information, please visit www.rmacompanies.com. About Western Technologies Western Technologies, Inc. is an engineering services firm specializing in geotechnical engineering, environmental consulting, construction materials testing, non-destructive testing, and special inspection services, among other disciplines. Enviro-Drill, Inc. provides geotechnical and environmental drilling services. Serving the southwestern U.S. for nearly 70 years, WT has become a nationally recognized firm, with approximately 300 employees across 12 full-service offices with 7 laboratory facilities. WT serves a diverse customer base across both government and commercial end-markets. Founded in 1955, Western Technologies is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information, please visit www.wt-us.com. About OceanSound Partners OceanSound Partners is a New York-based private equity firm that pursues control investments in technology and technology-enabled services companies serving government and enterprise end-markets. OceanSound employs a partnership approach, working closely with founders, entrepreneurs, and executives of middle market businesses to drive transformational growth. For more information, please visit: www.oceansoundpartners.com.

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ENGINEERING TECH

Simulation and Digital Twins in Data Center Design and Operation

Simulation | July 12, 2021

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a building, such as a data center, that will offer comprehensive simulations of how it will perform and operate throughout its life, whether planned or already built.Though still in their early stages, digital twins provide a means for companies to build data centers more effectively and sustainably from the outset. Firms can optimize how their facility is built, understand how it will function, and identify possible problems using these full digital doppelgängers before a single server is deployed.Companies can use simulation software to predict, visualize, and quantify the effect of every change in their data center before implementing it. While such simulation software offers potential advantages for continuing operations of existing data centers, it also enables businesses to understand how their facilities will operate in the real world. Companies can improve data center designs by optimizing hardware layout, power and cooling, and airflow. It is even possible to adjust the positioning of solar panels on buildings.Before the foundations of a facility are built, firms can identify possible problems such as hotspots or fire hazards. A major advantage of a digital twin is that it incorporates physics such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD); liquids, gases, and temperatures in 3D spaces are brought into the image, providing the company with a far more detailed perspective of how a data center will behave. When coupled with virtual or augmented reality technologies, a digital twin can show buildings in their full glory before construction and assist in the development process.

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Autodesk Launches New Model Coordination Workflow Between Two Flagship Products, Navisworks and Bim

Autodesk | September 23, 2020

Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) today announced it has launched a new model coordination workflow between two of its flagship products, Navisworks and BIM 360 Model Coordination, both of which are widely used by architects, engineers and construction teams. The new integration further strengthens Autodesk Construction Cloud by enabling construction teams to manage the entire model coordination workflow including clash detection and issues management in a common data environment from within a single solution. Customers can now take advantage of both Navisworks and BIM 360 Model Coordination's best-in-class capabilities to improve the quality of construction documents, save time, decrease schedule risk and reduce rework. Before a construction project breaks ground, Navisworks empowers general contractors to identify and resolve clash and constructability issues, and BIM 360 Model Coordination enables design and trade partners to create, track and self-check issues that arise during the model coordination process. Now, users can automate clash detection in BIM 360 Model Coordination, as well as create and assign issues from either Navisworks or BIM 360. This new workflow enhances existing coordination workflows for Navisworks users and empowers BIM 360 Model Coordination users to do more specific clash detection and analysis in Navisworks.

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