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Published 05 July 2012 05:04, Updated 05 July 2012 11:11
Building information modelling (BIM) is not just shaking up the architecture, engineering and construction industries. The reverberations are being felt all the way back to the tertiary education foundations of these professions.
UTS’s Jennifer Macdonald is working on a joint project with colleagues at UniSA and Newcastle University on integrating BIM training into current undergraduate courses to prepare future professionals with some of the skills those in industry are struggling to grasp. One hurdle, she points out, is that the lack of trust between professions pervades academia as well.
“Those same divisions exist at the academic level that exist in the construction industry,” she says. “At the university level, the different professions work separately. The only time they work together is out in industry.”
Macdonald studied at the UK’s Strathclyde University, where undergraduates studied architecture and different types of engineering before specialising. “That gave me an appreciation for other disciplines,” she says. “That’s what I’m trying to encourage. We have to start exposing undergraduates to other disciplines and what they do and what they have to contribute.”
BIM is also forcing more immediate changes to the ways professionals such as architects work, says Lyons director Adrian Stanic. “BIM has changed the structure of architecture teams and the way you set up a team,” he says. In the past, a team would have several people working ‘in parallel’ on a facade. “Because it was in two dimensions, someone could be working on the north elevation, someone on the western elevation.” But that doesn’t make a lot of sense in the BIM environment. Now, he says, there would be a couple of lead people – the key BIM modellers – in charge of much of the three-dimensional geometry, including where key features such as stairs and lift cores were sited.
“These people have the big moves on the project. They would be adjusting the geometry. Overlaid on that you’d have people working on other areas of the project and their contribution to the project, but they would not be controlling whole aspects of the model.”
He says the net result is not fewer people on a project team, just different division of tasks. “I don’t think it’s necessarily changed the need for resources on projects. It just allows you do to things with more efficiency.”