Edgar Martinez Ceja and Ali Khaloo (Aren) and Mike Giacco (AI Engineers) on Future Construct
Play • 53 min

In this week's episode and final installment of the Future Construct Podcast and Shadow Ventures special 4-part series, we are excited to feature Edgar Martinez Ceja and Ali Khaloo, Co-Founders of Aren, who are also the COO and CEO respectively, in part one and Mike Giacco, Director of Technology at AI Engineers (@AI_Engineers) in part two. Joining host Amy Peck (@AmyPeckXR) as co-host for this special episode is KP Reddy (@reddy_kp) from Shadow Ventures. KP is a globally recognized authority in AEC environments, AI, robotics, automation, mobile applications, and cloud computing and a sought-after subject matter expert, frequently speaking worldwide on BIM and the built environment. 

Edgar brings significant business, engineering, and startup expertise to his role at Aren. His prior roles include CEO at Niltsi (a pre-revenue startup in the wind energy space), as well as stints at Bain & Company (@BainAlerts), Fusion Media Group (@FusionMedia), and Univision (@Univision). Over the course of his career, Edgar has been responsible for investing in, acquiring, and operating digital media businesses in the range of $100M in annual revenue, leading a digital vertical with $35M in annual revenue. He also co-founded a company that toured robotic educational exhibits throughout Latin America and Asia, exposing millions of kids to technology. Edgar holds an MBA from NYU-Leonard N. Stern School of Business (@NYUStern) and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois (@UofIllinois).

After completing his Ph.D., Ali was appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University’s (@Cornell) elite Runway program at the Cornell Tech campus in New York City, where Aren was born. He has a unique background that includes over a decade of work and R&D in structural engineering, robotics, computer vision, autonomous sensing, data interpretation, and artificial intelligence. He has authored more than 20 papers published in international high-impact journals and conference proceedings and holds several patents on automated generation and AI-powered analysis of 3D models of large civil infrastructure systems.

At Shadow Ventures, the focus is on investing in startups in tech-nascent markets where strategic capital is scarce. Their process and closed ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, designers, and developers are driven by both experience and technology to radically change how startups start, and investors finish. The company was founded in 2018 and partners with exceptional founders to transform the built environment.

In part two of this podcast, we are excited to feature Mike Giacco, Director of Technology at AI Engineers (@AI_Engineers). Mike has over 18 years of experience in the AEC industry, with the past 6 years focused on technology implementation. He is an FAA Part 107 Licensed Remote Pilot-in-Command and leads AI’s UAS Program as well as all other company technology initiatives. Mike has performed numerous UAS operations involving signature bridge structure inspection, construction documentation, emergency response, and survey/mapping. Most recently, his team brought artificial intelligence (AI) to the firm to assist with asset inspection and evaluation, keeping AIE on the cutting-edge of UAS capabilities.

Highlights of Edgar, Ali and Mike’s interviews with hosts Amy Peck (@AmyPeckXR) and KP Reddy (@reddy_kp) include:

  • The methodology behind connecting the dots between academia teaching you how to research and

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