Friday, August 27, 2010

Can BIM be 'Taught'?

Do you ever stop and ask yourself how you got ‘Here’?  Not in the existential sense (i.e. of the origins of life), nor in the explicit sense of reading this blog, but rather ‘How did I become a BIM-Guy/Gal?’

Some of us come from an architectural background, some an engineering, some computer science.  My mentor was an older guy who had already had a career as a dry-wall contractor and went back to school to get a Technical Degree in CAD and he just went up and onwards from there.

My background is in architecture.  I had done design work in 3D at an Architecture firm for many years.  One day the phone rang, and my mentor said “I have work and you are the guy to do it.  When can you start?”  In 2 weeks I was working for a construction company, building a model of an arena in Architectural Desktop.  I didn’t know what ‘BIM’ was, all I knew was that they had given me a substantial pay increase to engage in the same kind of activity I had been doing all along, but now it had a fancy name!  I have bounced around between design, construction and engineering ever since.

My point is that I didn’t go to school specifically for whatever this is I do now.  On my company business card it says “BIM Coordinator”.  In the past I have been called “3D Specialist”, “Design Phase Coordinator”, but my favorite was “3D Maven”  I consider myself an architect with exceptional skills at manipulating software, and lots of experience in using 3D as a design tool through all phases of construction.  If anyone dared call me a “CAD Manager”, they wouldn’t have a chance to say it twice.

I imagine that if you are reading this, you are also a person with a diverse educational/career background.  What it says on your business card and the actual value you bring to your position are probably quite different.  What ties us together isn’t limited to just software proficiency or intellectual curiosity or design creativity or a love for Star Wars…I think there is something unquantifiable that under-girds it all.  Dare I call it ‘Passion’?

So if we take a moment to consider ‘How did we get here?’ I have been thinking that the next question might be ‘How do I bring others?’

Which brings me to the spark for this missive in the first place:

Can BIM be taught?

How is BIM being addressed conceptually in schools?  For that matter, is there a ‘Theory’ behind what we are doing?  I know there are many PHD’s out there studying the quantifiable effects of BIM, but that’s not what I am referring to at all.

In an institutional setting what would a BIM course or curriculum look like?

(I wonder if Carl Bass is reading this and thinking to himself “It looks like AU!”) 

A quick search online yeilds some interesting results...

They are teaching BIM in Texas High Schools:

An online BIM University with zero class offerings:

The USC School of Architecture does an annual Symposium, as do several other colleges I imagine:
USC BIM Symposium

They even offered one with a great name:
USC's "KILL BIM"

But really the offerings are kind of slim.

Along my journey, I’ve met some younger people who I have mentored and tutored along this path, but finding someone who shares “The Passion” is not easy.  I think that's the crux of the matter.  No matter what happens, "Passion" can't be taught...its gotta come from within...its gotta be inspired.

Does anyone else think about this at all?  I am confident someone else reading this has.

It’s not just training someone to use Revit/ADT/Rhino/Catia/Bentley, but coaching them to see the possibilities our tools bring to the table.  How do we inspire passion and innovation for the next generation(s)?

Looking forward to any and all comments/opinions/shared experiences,

TBT

7 comments:

  1. You are not alone.
    I have been reading a lot lately about “change” and an overriding theme is how fear (of the unknown, of change, of the boss) can stifle the embrace of change. I think that “passion” is the antidote. Those of us with the passion innate still have the fear, but we don’t let it stop us from changing. The passion overrides.

    I don’t think that you can teach passion, we have tried (ok, first we tried to teach Revit, and then we tried to teach passion. It’s still up in the air where we lost some folks.)

    However, I do think that you can inspire it. If you can find a way to personalize the issue (the broken process in the industry) and demonstrate the solution (BIM, IPD, VDC, ETC) I think that you can inspire that passion. Making it personal is the hard part.

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  2. A teacher can only plant the seed.

    For me this happened a little over a year ago. As an architecture undergrad with some extra space in the class schedule, I decided to take a class at a slightly more tech-savvy school down the street.

    It wasn't the broken industry that inspired me to spend Friday evenings in a Revit class, it was the things they showed us after we were done with the serious business. Things like Mr. Lopez Campo's bridge design and all the work that is produced by the good people over at Buildz, Inc.

    If you have a passion for the end result (I often see it as FINE ART), all the math and technical knowledge that it took to get there becomes far more bearable as part of the process.

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  3. I don't feel the question is really the correct one. It shouldn't be "Can BIM be tuaght".

    The question should really be, "Can you learn BIM."

    No matter how much you teach something to someone, it is up to that person to actually learn something.That is what is most important I feel.

    I also agree with Erik's statement, that it is has a lot to do with passion. Passion itself comes from those that have an attitude that says, I am going to do my best and pursue the best result. So they will end up looking for the best result.

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  4. In one sense, to understand BIM, (or to "do BIM") you first need to understand how buildings are put together in the real world. Classes may help you with that, but there's a reason that most crafts have traditionally had some kind of apprenticeship stage: you can only come to a full understanding by "doing" it first.
    Construction trades still do this today, as do design professionals. This is the reason for the experience requirements for both Professional Engineers and Registered Architects.

    Knowing how to run the software is only one piece of the puzzle. If you don't know how it's going to be constructed (or at least know enough to know what questions need to be asked) you're never going to be able to create a useful Building Information Model.

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  5. The first BIM blog to move me to tears.

    So much to add, so little time, but it's like a trapeze... yes it takes a lot to get to that moment of flying through the air with the greatest of ease but once you're their it's pretty special. It takes passion to step out into the air, and it's just not the same if you skip the practice or the passion and try to bring a parachute or a harness or some really good understanding of trapeze structure.

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  6. Definitly, BIM change the waysee architecture. I feel free to create the building the way I want, cause now I have the tools in my hand. The more you advance, the more you get confidence to do whatever you want. And the structural way of thiking... its amazing. It have to be thaught, cause it help architects to think

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  7. I'd say that it is very hard to learn something or teach/make one learn something if the one that is learning it has no need/value in it. In this case it will just go "straight through" like all this information that we had to absorb in "Structures" classes in college or formulas from Chemistry or Physics classes in high school. The same reason BIM doesn't "stick" to majority of students in Arch schools - nobody did a good job on communicating the REAL VALUE of it to students to actually become interested in that. Why the heck would I care about being able to schedule my building data in school/my design studio??? But this is only one part of the problem that is related to the super outdated priorities of NCARB.

    Now back into the actual AEC industry and the professionals... The MOST important difference between those that understood the value of BIM (or I'd rather say EFFICIENT design/delivery process) vs those that are having hard times with it in my opinion is THE ABILITY TO LOOK CRITICALLY at their day-to-day tasks and the way their design/delivery process is at the moment. If one doesn't see anything wrong with 2D CAD while bio-engineers around the corner engineer and grow human organs from scratch, or if one never wished that some/a lot of the things in project delivery would happen more efficient and were less disconnected while CERN has designed and built Large Hadron Collider - chances are that it will be very hard for this ONE to understand and adopt BIM. And that is fine, the problem is that at this moment in time those that rely on performing "assembly -line" types of work regarding on the industry they are in will find it very hard to stay afloat on the job market. So it is not only if "Can BIM be taught" but "Do you NEED BIM"?

    Here is a good article http://www.forbes.com/sites/quickerbettertech/2011/07/18/9-2-unemployment-blame-microsoft/

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