Last month I attended the Reno Student Competition. This annual event brings students, faculty and industry together for a few days of problem solving, networking and job hunting. Construction programs from the Western part of the country nominate teams to compete for solving construction problems sponsored by the industry. The BIM problem was sponsored by Webcor this year. The students were given a set of 2D drawings, a construction program and crew production rates. They had to solve specific questions using a building model such as “what happens to the cost and schedule if you change the structure from concrete to steel?” The students had one day to work on the problem and present their approach to the project in front of an industry panel. In the previous years, students were not required to generate a building model only to use building models that were already given to them. This year, however, it was part of the challenge to build construction models at various levels of detail. It was really good to see that construction modeling was not considered to be an extra skill set, but was becoming the standard way of communicating construction information for students. It was even more exciting to see that the winning team from Calpoly used Vico Constructor, Estimator and Control to accurately define the potential impact of schedule delays. Congratulations Calpoly!
I also had the opportunity to listen in on discussions between faculty and industry about the type of people they would need during the economic downturn. Some General Contractors are considering self performing more trades in this economy so they can capture a bigger share of the project. In order to expand their business they would need more craftsman and educated field personnel as opposed office staff who work in silos in estimating and scheduling. BIM can help students simulate the construction process and learn more about trades before they go to the site. The most effective BIM curriculum, therefore, is not the one that’s disconnected from construction curriculum, but the one that is integrated with field visits and is part of the construction management course. Many companies are still hiring, but the there are less entry level positions available; the bar is raised and competition is more intense. Students with good understanding of BIM might have an advantage during job interviews.
I am looking forward to seeing next year’s competition. It seems like every year both students and faculty are more familiar with the full value that 5D BIM can offer.