WEFTEC 2023: What we saw, what we learned about NOAA Atlas 15, and what we won

Youssef Al Fahham Youssef Al Fahham October 6, 2023

3 min read

We’ve just returned from a hugely successful WEFTEC 2023, attempting to do a brief yet extensive recap of what was a grand water event. WEFTEC is considered one of the world’s largest gatherings of water professionals:

This year, Autodesk had a significant presence at WEFTEC, with nearly 20 team members joining the 20,000 other water industry experts, some of whom are pictured above. Let’s go over what we learned – and experienced – during the event.

Strength in numbers: About half of the team who joined us at WEFTEC 2023.

NOAA Atlas 14 will be getting an update

NOAA Atlas 14 is generally recognized as the authoritative source of precipitation frequency data in the US. It covers a range of storm durations from 5-minutes through 60-days, for average recurrence intervals of 1-year through 1,000-years, so describing it as comprehensive might be an understatement.

But did you know that NOAA Atlas 15 is actually in the works? It has a pretty ambitious timeline. The NOAA Atlas 15 pilot for the State of Montana is scheduled to be completed as soon as 2024, with the entire Atlas completed by 2027. When completed, NOAA Atlas 15 will be the new national precipitation frequency standard, and there is a lot to look forward to. First, it will provide updates to the NOAA Atlas 14 precipitation frequency standard while accounting for climate change. Second, it will include precipitation frequency estimates for the entire US and its territories.

Patrick Bonk gives a theater talk at our booth. This year, we had theater talks every morning of the Expo.

Ultimate Collection Systems Basics Trivia Challenge 2.0

This year’s collection systems basics trivia challenge was fiercely competitive, with the leadership board reshuffling after almost every question, with the competition lasting for 90 minutes. Pretty stressful, as you might imagine, but also a lot of fun. Topics of the trivia challenge were diverse, from hydraulic modeling and flow metering to questions about the Chicago River flow reversal project. Even aspects of the operational value of hydraulic modeling and its limitations were incorporated in the trivia challenge.

Our own Youssef Al Fahham, a hydraulic modeler himself, participated in the trivia challenge and was pleasantly surprised to finish in 5th place, which qualified him for WEFTEC goodies as a top 5 finisher.

Youssef came in 5th place in the trivia contest – one of many reasons for the team to celebrate.

Engaging with the industry

One of our teams’ favorite things at these events is talking to customers and others in the water industry about all of the innovation and rapid transformation that powerful technology is bringing to the space. Here on the Autodesk Water team, we have a passion for building the industry’s best water tools, from drainage, to storm, sewer, and flood, to water distribution, to cloud analytics. At WEFTEC 2023, one thing was clear – the industry sees it too.

One of the biggest overarching trends we heard from industry professionals at WEFTEC 2023 was that they know they need to embrace digital transformation – they just need help doing so. Many cited scattered data, aging staff, and an industry simply still doing things the way they used to. However, one thing that never came up from operators, engineers, designers, consultants and the like, was that this old way of doing things has any reason of persisting further into the future. The industry clearly sees the path forward as one that utilizes integrated, connected, and comprehensive water management tools – what we’re building here at Autodesk.

How can we help? We learned a lot about what customers need. Like help resources.

The increased importance of training

A significant barrier to digital transformation that the industry talks cited was training and staff – specifically a lack of staff willing to digitally transform their workflows and a lack of access to training materials to make this transformation easier.

In our pursuit to overcome this barrier, the Autodesk Water team has built out free training courses for each of our water products so users can quickly work through practical problems and learn new tools more efficiently.

As the water industry transforms and becomes smarter and more connected, our team is excited to stand with the industry, supporting this transition and enabling engineers, consultants, designers, operators, and everyone who cares about water management to do their jobs better, with the tools they need.

Did you miss it? WEFTEC put together a YouTube playlist of their coverage.

WEFTEC is known for their crowd-pleasing challenges – both brawny and cerebral.

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