Digital Construction Awards 2024: Laing O’Rourke’s Ben Hardie is Rising Star of the Year

Ben Hardie wins Digital Rising Star of the Year at the Digital Construction Awards 2024
Ben Hardie (second right) collects his trophy from Ollie Hughes of Digital Construction Week (left), Caroline Gumble of the CIOB (second left) and Tom Allen (right) (Photo © 2024 – ASV Photography Ltd.

Laing O’Rourke digital engineer Ben Hardie was crowned Digital Rising Star of the Year, sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Building, at the Digital Construction Awards 2024 last night (2 July).

Hardie joined Laing O’Rourke straight from sixth form as part of the organisation’s school and college leaver programme, where he went on to study for his degree. As he progressed his career in the company, he transitioned to digital engineering, which is where he found his passion, citing its multi-disciplinary nature and presence across business functions.

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His academic performance was stellar, gaining a first-class degree in Architectural Technology and winning the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists’ Outstanding Student award. This recognition was predicated on his modelling, drafting and research skills during his final design project.

At Laing O’Rourke, Hardie has used his time to advance the industry, attending numerous STEM events and careers fairs where he has demonstrated the built environment through a virtual reality headset. He is an evangelist for digital tools and technology in construction, learning coding and developing the Power BI dashboards for project data management on The Whiteley project in London, where he is based.

On his first project, Soho Place, he created several 4D animations that were used to illustrate key build sequences to the project team, client and subcontractors.

Training seminars

He has also delivered numerous Navisworks training seminars, contributing to the digital literacy of his team. His ability as a mentor was recognised in his admission to Laing O’Rourke’s digital engineering ‘buddy’ scheme. This scheme was set up to help new starters from the graduate programme by pairing them with more experienced digital engineers.

Becoming a mentor is a testament to his skillset as this is usually only a position taken up by more senior digital engineers. He embraced the opportunity, having come from the contractor’s learning development programme himself.

Despite his recent transition from academia, Hardie did not waste any time in sharing his knowledge. He delivered lectures to engineering students at Exeter University, leading Navisworks fundamentals training sessions and providing technical support as students engaged in coursework.

He is deeply committed to leveraging digital construction enhancements, such as migrating 2D drawings to data-driven 3D models and creating accessible visual method statements. His diverse digital skillset earned him the affectionate moniker “The Swiss Army knife of digital engineering” on site, reflecting his versatility and largely self-taught expertise.

Hardie said: "It feels incredible to be named Digital Rising Star of the Year. It is really special to be recognised for the work that I’ve done over the last couple of years. Being part of digital construction means you are able to effect a lot of change. It is really exciting. I also have to give a lot of props to my team – Laing O’Rourke has been a great support in terms of my career progression."

  • Savannagh Armstrong, business architect at EDF UK
  • David Caughey, digital construction lead at Mivan
  • Ehsan Ghasemi, BIM information manager at VolkerLaser
  • Ben Hardie, digital engineer at Laing O’Rourke
  • Isabella Noble, project manager at EDF UK
  • Aron Owen, project lead at Mott MacDonald Bentley

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