Teaching B/IM, why, what and how?

During my visit to Vilnius, Lithuania last week, I was scheduled to give a talk to group of lecturers from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University about incorporating BIM in their teaching. I was expecting 7-8 educators to attend, instead close to 50 showed up…


…making my first slide very accurate:

Here is what I told them, my 0.02$ on teaching BIM…

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has arrived and it is transforming the way AECO Industries work. Academic Institutions are lagging behind, in some countries more than in others, in terms of adopting BIM in their curriculum so it is time for a catch up…and why not a leadership? Whether it is University in China or Croatia, Spain or Singapore, teaching BIM is a hot topic. Industry needs graduates who understand BIM concepts.

And it is not about “B” (“B” could be anything from Building to Road, from Water Network to Bridge, it really doesn’t matter what do you design), and it is not about “M”. It is about “I” and how do you enable Information Mobility rather than Mortality. As BIM evolves from BIM 1.0 to BIM 2.0 and beyond, BIM teaching evolves from teaching software application to teaching processes and workflows hopefully using the best of breed common data environment (CDE) available. Guess which one is that :-)? Emphasizes of teaching is shifting towards BIM impacts on how design and projects partners collaborate and how information is modelled and shared during the entire life cycle of the infrastructure asset with the support of the latest BIM technologies rather than geometry only.

The starting point, I think, is for a University to select the process that they want to teach. For example, in the UK the logical choice would be BS1192 since that is the national standard applicable on multiple Infrastructure disciplines and the students will have to follow it once they go out into industry. Process than needs to be put into context of workflow. In order to illustrate the workflow, a University needs to come up with a scenario. A storyboard needs to be designed about building an asset (airport, railway station, stadiums) with different teams responsible for architecture, structural, roadways and car parks, utilities and rail infrastructure. Hands-on exercises, in the form of role playing, with the focus on a key message about design collaboration and managing change should be created. Those could/should start from a set of pre-built models already in the system and then show students how to run these models through the approvals process, making changes to the design and then resubmitting the design for review. They should show how to build a federated model that brings together all of the different discipline models by reference and how the system automatically uses the latest version of a model if something is updated. The next step would be to teach students about impact assessment of design changes and use the system to identify which models are used where…show also publishing and then talk about document control and transmittals.


BIM is entering Universities teaching as a new, separate topic (whether seen as a concept, or technology, or both), with little connection to the rest. Hopefully, over the time, it would integrate with the rest of curricula adding “BIM Management” skills to the learning outcomes of different teaching disciplines.  

BIM has arrived, also in academia. The question for many academic institutions teaching Architecture and Engineering is not whether they should teach it, but when and how to start.