BIM [building information modelling] seems to be the latest flavour of the month, and there seems to be endless social media activity centred around the good, the bad and the ugly of the BIM world. To many, the academic world is ‘letting the side down’, and not following the direction of industry.
BIM is currently being taken up in the AEC industry at an exponential rate across the globe, and much recent activity has centred around Australia, where recent changes by the government stipulating a BIM approach for public funded projects will be the way, following other countries around the world. The whole idea of BIM conventions and practice can seem all too new, and somewhat overwhelming. It has, however, been around, in some fashion or another, for the best of 20 years or so.
A key criticism of this burgeoning effort, is that academia is not following suit and not providing an appropriate platform upon which students [the future building designers, architects and engineers] can join the bandwagon.
BIM Education @ Digital Construction Academy
At Digital Construction Academy we use a somewhat more reverse-engineering process to the process of learning about architecture, building design, construction and related course elements. Our view is that the traditional output of 2D drawing and documents is an end-process, and a natural knock-on to gain from working with BIM compliant software from the get g0. Our students will learn about construction and how buildings go together in an aesthetic, technical and material sense by exploiting 3D BIM modelling software from their first week as a student – in our case, using Revit or Tekla, depending upon course followed.
Our students are therefore exposed immediately to the value of working with a BIM model and develop appropriate skills along that direction as they move through course programme elements.
Our students become exposed to national standards, manufacturer specifications and building system technical elements from naturally using the latest software available and all the associated BIM links which come with that, including manufacturer plugins, warranty data and compliance information.
Our students will produce much more ‘polished’ final work as a result, have a model which lends itself to output in a variety of forms, is easier to interrogate and check, and upon which can be conducted a variety of analysis configurations, from solar studies to structural engineering.
More critically, they are essentially building the building – before it gets built. And taking that model in the virtual world as far as it is possible to go – virtually building the structure before actually building the structure.
Essentially, a BIM model, regardless of what software might have been used to create it provides all the fundamental aspects of a BIM deliverable project – a virtual model of a real [possible] building, NOT a collection of unconnected, disparate and error-prone drawings and documents, and which also delivers the different type of final output required of building owners, operators and managers.
And fundamentally, we take this BIM approach at Digital Construction Academy as a highly desirable objective and expose our students to these techniques and 21st century approaches immediately and continue to enrich them throughout their course programme.
Other academic centres may differ in their approach and choose not get on this bandwagon. We think if you’re not on the bandwagon, you’re likely to get left behind!!