BIM: Educating the next generation

Graham Stewart, UK Head of BIM, Ramboll
With the UK government mandate of Building Information Modelling (BIM) level 2 commencing in 2016 there has been urgency over the past couple of years to educate the construction industry on BIM, in particular what it means and how we deliver it. BIM is a powerful tool that allows us to collaborate and cooperate more effectively, delivering better buildings, more efficiently. There remains, however, a number of problems within the industry in terms of educating the next generation of building professionals. 
Naturally, universities have a major role to play in educating the next generation of building professionals. This has proven a difficult task as a number have little or no understanding on what is involved in BIM and are increasingly reliant on the industry to step in and assist with education.
Much of the education on BIM revolves around what is known as the ‘8 Pillars’. The difficulty with teaching the 8 Pillars is that it assumes a certain level of knowledge of the processes in the construction industry. This can be tough as a lot of students at university will have no real knowledge of the construction process so it can all seem very confusing especially as a lot of the acronyms are new terminology used to describe old processes.  
Also there is a misconception that those who receive one of the various BIM accreditations immediately become experts in the use of BIM! In reality, these accreditations are mostly just crash courses on the 8 Pillars. To truly gain an understanding of BIM, including aspects such as data and social interaction, I would recommend completing a master’s degree (which can be completed as a part-time distance learning course). 
In order to mitigate these issues, Ramboll has created an Integrated Business Technology Network which acts across Ramboll to aid the delivery of an exemplary standard level of BIM across the business to upskill departments with the changing regulation in the sector as well as providing support and guidance. 
In 1998, Sir John Egan dared us to do things differently and to rethink construction. With the hard work of the Government’s BIM task group, we are finally starting to witness Egan’s vision, although we still have a long way to go. I would encourage those who are able to step up and volunteer at colleges and universities: teaching the next generation is vital in achieving Egan’s vision. 
Graham H Stewart is a Director at Ramboll UK and UK Head of BIM responsible for the Integrated Business Technology Network.
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