Educational and research issues while delivering BIM education in Academia.

This study is undertaken to identify issues involved while delivering BIM education in academia and regarding which BIM field players need to play an active role in resolving them. Globally, policy field players are integrating BIM education into academia. And, during this process of BIM incorporation in academics, policy field players had come across several complications. In the past, few active BIM educationalists & researchers had attempted to identify issues associated with BIM education & established few strategies to overcome them. However, efforts are essential towards collecting the issues involved while adopting BIM education in academia and to categorize these issues, for identifying which BIM field players must invest their efforts in resolving BIM educational issues. Our study assembles the BIM educational issues & categorize them into three different field issues, i.e. policy, technology and process as presented in Fig 1. These issues that has been generated while delivering BIM education in academia, need to be addressed by respective BIM field players for effective BIM diffusion into academia.

Figure 1: BIM fields, their players and deliverables (modified from: Succar 2009).

In order to realize the AEC project stakeholders’ activities within the project delivery, we have adopted Succar, 2009 BIM framework, i.e. visualization of BIM fields, players and deliverables classification as represented in Figure 1. This BIM framework defines BIM technology, process and policy field players and their deliverables in a logical way. BIM field players’ roles are described here: (1) BIM technology field players develop or deliver BIM associated tools, systems, equipment or materials required for designing, constructing and maintaining facilities; (2) BIM process field players procure, design, construct, manufacture, manage and maintain facilities; And, (3) BIM policy field players educate practitioners, conduct research, allocate responsibilities, minimize conflicts and regulate the facility delivery.

As previously stated, in the past, few active BIM educationalists and researchers had attempted to identify issues that occur while delivering academic BIM education and developed strategies to overcome them, that has been discussed in here. Barison and Santos (2012b) addressed main obstacles encountered with BIM teaching and introduced new strategies to overcome them at introductory, intermediary and advanced levels. Panuwatwanich et al. (2013) explored and discussed on the issues faced for integrating BIM into the curricula. Recently, Hedayati et al. (2015) studied the obstacles to implement BIM in educational system and made further recommendations. Also, most recently BAF in the UK has identified several BIM education-associated issues and developed several strategies to overcome them in UK sector (Underwood & Ayoade 2015). However, it is essential to work towards collectively categorizing the issues based on different types of BIM field players, who need to invest efforts in resolving them. Our study assembles the BIM educational issues and categorize them into policy, technology and process field issues (see Figure 2). These BIM educational issues need to be addressed by respective BIM field players to make effective BIM diffusion into academic curriculum.

Fig 2. Issues to be addressed by BIM field players for effective BIM adoption in academia.

The most common issue for delivering BIM education in academia is that, institutions are traditionally formed of departments, which are independent of each other. Some of the educational institutes have no more than one AECO program. Moreover, it is difficult to coordinate schedules, classrooms and laboratories of the whole faculty (Panuwatwanich et al. 2013). The UK’s BAF study investigated current position and associated challenges of BIM education in the UK’s HEIs. BAF studies investigation clearly revealed the barriers associated: (1) disconnection between AECO disciplines; (2) no correlation between software adoption and generation categories; (3) low level of BIM policy and maturity awareness; (4) HEIs low levels of engagement with AECO industry; (5) BIM and institution accreditation in HEIs (Underwood & Ayoade 2015).

Policy field players

BIM Policy field players need to progress collectively for resolving the issues related to academic BIM educational policies. Firstly, an initiation has to be taken for removal of resistance to change and lack of motivation in educators to deliver collaborative BIM curriculum. Asper Barison & Santos 2010, 2012a, b study, the major resistance to deploy BIM education in academia is due to its heavy demands like general Information technology (IT) skills, new teaching methods and educating teachers with rapidly evolving BIM technology. Also, there is a shortage of trained personnel on BIM, this has become the major reason for the curriculum not focused on BIM technology and workflows. In addition, the BIM curriculum takes time for getting delivered, with the major reason being accrediting bodies for construction programs have not drawn up clear guidelines for BIM education. Secondly, the procedure for integrating different areas of curriculum to realize multidisciplinary aspect of BIM is challenging. And, there is a lack of global accreditation standards and requirements to guide the implementation of BIM within a curriculum (Agboola & Elinwa 2013). Thirdly, universities wishing to implement BIM are likely to face several difficulties, but many of them would be institutional, i.e. to promote integration between different curriculum areas and to find programs from other departments, or even other distant schools that are willing to promote integration (Barison & Santos 2010). Lack of time or resources to prepare a new curriculum, lack of space in the curriculum to include new courses and insufficient BIM specific materials, text books and other educational resources to teach BIM (Barison & Santos 2012a).  Fourthly, few BIM educationalists and researchers like Liu and Hatipkarasulu (2014) had discussed on their experiences from the first time offering of a BIM course in a relatively young construction program with a diverse student body at University of Texas. One of the main challenges they faced was in estimating time requirements for homework and project assignments. It is essential to introduce BIM as both topic and tool for performing engineering tasks taught within design, analysis, and management courses. Educating students on both technology and processes associated with BIM and getting them involved in real AEC projects would benefit in producing BIM ready graduates.

Technology field players

Technology field players need to coordinate with BIM educationalists and researchers for resolving the technical issues associated with BIM education delivery. Four major technical issues are discussed here: (1) to successfully deliver a BIM related course, an institution must have a modern IT laboratory facility. This would require a dedicated server to accommodate the large storage capacity, which is required for multiple BIM users; (2) technical officers would also be needed to provide support for laboratory computers; (3) BIM tools are often expensive and the BIM educators experience difficulties in choosing appropriate tools; (4) there are also issues with software licenses, lack of intelligent error detection and correction by BIM software, and also limited choices of BIM object libraries, which need to be addressed (McDonald & Donohoe 2013).

Process field players

The process field players need to work together with BIM educationalists and researchers for delivering BIM education in academia. Three of the major issues that need to be resolved by these players are discussed here: (1) BIM as a practice in context is still lacking with weaker ties between AECO industry and academia, that need to be addressed (Salman 2014). It seems that there is a gap between industry expectations and student learning outcomes, which is directly reflected by the fact that companies seldom recruit college students for job openings dedicated to BIM (Wu & Issa 2013); (2) Building information modeling requires expert construction knowledge that is not easily understood by students, especially when they lack work experience. It is essential to identify techniques to deliver this actual construction knowledge to students in BIM curriculum; (3) the management aspects of BIM are not yet covered in BIM curriculum, i.e. issues related to BIM processes, such as standardization, design and construction contracts, information security management and change management. It is clear from our understanding that, currently BIM is taught as technology. And, it is essential to educate the students on process involved in diffusing BIM technology across the PLC stages.


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I am thankful to Prof. Shang-Hsien Hsieh for his support throughout this research process. And, special thanks to my parents for their constant support in life.

Guest Author

Amarnath CB
Founder, India BIM Association
PhD Candidate, National Taiwan University
International Representative, Zigurat Global Institute of Technology

An alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Bangalore University and Visvesvaraya Technological University is currently pursuing PhD on Building Information Modeling (BIM) at National Taiwan University where he is investigating on Performance measurements in BIM projects. Amarnath CB, has a research experience for more than seven years on BIM at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Imperial College London and National Taiwan University and a year of teaching experience at Visvesvaraya Technological University. He is progressing towards BIM research with several other directions, i.e. Global BIM trends, BIM adoption, lean & green, building information services, industry-wide adoption, education & training and real-life cases. He is the founder of India BIM Association (IBIMA). He is also the Co-Founder of Global BIM News & India-Taiwan Foundation initiatives. Playing an active role as a member of editorial team for IJM&P and ISCCBE BIM technical committee member. He is also the member of ASCE, CIOB & RICS. Amarnath CB can be contacted through ResearchGate & LinkedIn.



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