Capacity building for BIM

The previous article highlighted that client organisations and building owners need to play a leading role in integrating Building information Modeling (BIM) into the construction industry. Construction industry clients are strictly value-driven and therefore can only create demand for BIM and lead the process if they understand it in terms of tangible benefits. This requires proper BIM education, with the aim of raising awareness of recent developments in BIM at an executive level, away from technical jargon.

The ‘BIM Buzz’ in the local construction industry has pushed construction professionals to quickly learn new software skills with very little understanding of the process and information required to maximise return on investment, which means the industry is focused on the technology rather than the collaborative working that is the backbone of BIM. This becomes critical to client organisations, as they are the party that should specify BIM requirements which the supply chain (consultants and contractors) has to respond to and comply with.

Recent BIM events in the uae have generally increased the overall maturity of the local industry in terms of the bigger picture of BIM. however, training and education in the region still relies on basic technology (software) training and software functionalities, which only represents the technological aspects of BIM and does not contribute to developing the knowledge and skills required to push BIM adoption.

This software-led BIM education has created vendor silos in the industry, limiting client options to consultants and contractors working on the same software platform, and thus reducing client leverage power if they want to keep up with BIM in their projects.

This situation was recognised in the UK, leading to the construction of BIM academic form (BAF) and BIM learning outcomes Framework by the UK BIM Task Group. The aim of these initiatives was to join industry and academia to deliver BIM education and training, supporting the up-skilling of workforces and organisations to achieve the uK’s BIM adoption targets by 2016. as a result, the majority of UK universities have incorporated BIM into their construction curriculums, and are currently working towards creating partnerships with industry to understand market requirements and provide relevant training and educational materials.

Also, a number of successful academia industry knowledge exchange forms have emerged, and professional institutes in the UK now offer BIM training programmes and certificates, which are recognised internationally and empower the uK construction industry and clients towards achieving the BiM adoption objectives.

Similar initiatives are needed in the UAE, to create greater awareness of and exposure to BIM methodologies with the client as the focus, articulating the necessary changes in work practices, people and legal frameworks for BIM implementation and adoption to succeed.

Executive BIM programmes should focus on making sure ceos and senior managers are acquainted with the overall understanding of BIM and effective ways to manage its implementation within organisations and throughout the life cycle of projects. Technical BIM programes should address the relationship between BIM and work practices, technology and the principles of collaborative working.

A critical factor is greater collaboration between industry and academia to achieve this, as recognised in the UK, sharing knowledge and practice to drive BIM training and education in the region.

It is up to policy-makers in the uae to encourage and initiate such ventures, by working with academic peers and industry leaders in the field. This is the key to unlocking the potential of BIM, for a better construction industry.

Dr Muhammad Tariq Shafiq is a BIM manager at Imirati Engineering & Consultants (IEC), Abu Dhabi.


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