Opinion

Educating openBIM

 

From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 1

Whilst numerous organisations have made ground when it comes to BIM adoption and standards development, there is also a lingering shortage of understanding of BIM at a base level. Not only has this restricted the industry in closed BIM adoption, but it also provides a series of major hurdles to be overcome before openBIM can truly be adopted outright.

One could argue that education comes first in all things, and in the realm of BIM this is no exception. Both Muse and Karl Redmond, Commercial Finance Director of Enable by Design present noteworthy positions in support of education for the sector, albeit looking at strikingly differing reasons for its importance going forward. Muse would argue for the immediate conception of education and training to support the sector, looking specifically at guidance, training and certification to open up the understanding of BIM.

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Q: Many believe that there is a lack of understanding on the potential of BIM as a whole and that education could be the solution to this. What is your opinion on education within the industry with regard to BIM?

A: This is something we have spent some time considering and first of all there is an immediate market need for people to be more up to speed with BIM - and we have tried our best to provide excellent guidance, training and BIM certification schemes.

The second issue is related to professional training, because a lot of people in this profession believe that BIM is just information management and therefore shouldn’t be seen as a separate subject matter as it is already part of what they do.

These are the issues that we should be addressing. Universities are obviously developing BIM education and I think professionals will need to come to terms with this in the way that it affects qualification routes [38].

ALAN MUSE, GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, RICS

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Redmond on the other hand hones in on the less-traditional topics of consequence and industry perception. Seemingly regarding the industry as somewhat wary of BIM as a “product of change” - elaborating that it stands to reason that a wary industry would feel vulnerable to legal troubles and mistakes within BIM of any form. This may act as a preventative boundary when it comes to fully embracing BIM itself, yet education can readily displace this fear. Redmond then puts forward the need for collaboration in learning and even support between individuals to achieve a common goal.

Karl is also keen to “get rid of the deadwood, the people who are unwilling to change, and bring new people in and train them because it will not take long to get them up to speed with the more modern advancements”. Which goes a little further I would say.

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Q: What limitations or challenges could you see stemming from an open and collaborative workflow?

A: Culture, communication and fear are the three challenges that we are faced with and this refers to fear of change, fear of asking the relevant questions and fear of doing the wrong thing. Sometimes fear can step in and make people do stupid things to rectify errors and mistakes.

This is about getting everybody on side and making sure that all people are strong enough and knowledgeable enough. What we don’t want is lawyers coming in and getting in the way of what should be a completely open and collaborative process, therefore we need to encourage people to come forward if they don’t know how to do something and then it can be worked through as a team[58].

KARL REDMOND, COMMERCIAL FINANCE DIRECTOR OF ENABLE BY DESIGN

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Regardless of the reasoning behind the importance of BIM education however, industry opinion is seemingly solidly behind the notion that education and training for BIM is somewhat lacking (but getting better). At the very same time, widespread recognition also remains present as to the importance of resolving this going forward, and developing educational and training standards as well.

Indeed, one could argue that standards for processes such as openBIM would go hand in hand with appropriate training and education courses to ensure that BIM participants are able to fully draw on the complete spectrum of opportunities available. Once again we look to the importance of accurate data within the BIM as the most important product for management, communication and utilisation, but without a core foundation in the understanding of how to do so transparently the full benefits start to fade.

Indeed, the author has a research paper being made available later this year that examines BIM at all levels of education in the UK, where some of these items will be considered.

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Q: What are some of the shortcomings of traditional, closed BIM to date? How does a more open, transparent and collaborative approach resolve these concerns?

A: There are an awful lot of people out there claiming that they can do all of what is required for transparency and collaboration within BIM, and I do believe that this is the case with some people who are higher up in the company, but this knowledge certainly isn’t being filtered down to the people making the decisions on the front line.

The definition of certification is not necessarily pointing to the fact that Level 2 BIM is being delivered to the client either, it just means there is a Level 2 understanding. So in many cases people are not on the same page and Level 2 is not being delivered to the client at all.

Culturally, some people just don’t know how to change and are stuck in their ways, so inevitably there are going to be problems when the clients are listening to contractors who are not engaging or understanding of the full picture and all of the changes that are required.

I personally think that this BIM agenda is fantastic and exactly what was needed, but we should have started with the client first rather than the industry, because the industry is commercial and would have played catch up anyway so this is where the problems lie at the moment.”

KARL REDMOND, COMMERCIAL FINANCE DIRECTOR OF ENABLE BY DESIGN

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In the meantime the better courses that are out there are listed in the new LEARN realm at The BIM Hub, which is currently in production at the moment (but if your organisation offers training or education then you really should get in touch).

Read all (and more) in BIM Journal