What constitutes the title “BIM Specialist”?

What constitutes the title “BIM Specialist”?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) can be traced back to its origin in the mid-1980s and has risen in popularity within the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industries. Due to this, the AEC industry has created a large demand for well-trained individuals capable of implementing BIM technology in the work place, some given the title BIM Specialist. The qualifications of a BIM Specialist in the AEC industry are based on education, experience, and BIM software expertise.

In 1986 Graphisoft introduced the first “Virtual Building Solution” known as ArchiCAD (Kmethy, 2008). This revolutionary new software allowed architects to create a virtual, three dimensional (3D) representation of their project instead of the standard two dimensional (2D objects found in competing computer aided design (CAD) programs of the time (Rajib Dey 2010). Since then numerous different applications have been created and adapted in the industry.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) can be defined as the creation and use of coordinated, consistent, computable information about a building project in design – parametric information used for design decision making, production of high-quality construction documents, and prediction of building performance, cost estimating and construction planning (Rajib Dey 2010).

Since the BIM software is based on parametric modeling the geometric consistency and integrity of the building model is maintained in spite of any changes or modifications that may have been made to it. Understanding the concept of these parametric objects is key to understanding what a building information model is and how it differs from traditional 2D design. A parametric object consists of a series of geometric definitions and their associated data and rules. In addition, these geometric definitions are integrated non-redundantly and do not allow for inconsistencies between the model and its associated data set. This means that any changes made directly to the model will result in an equal change to the data set associated with the model (Rajib Dey 2010).

BIM software that is currently used in the AEC industry varies by firm, function, and discipline. The more commonly used programs used in the AEC industry are Revit, NavisWorks, Bentley, ArchiCAD, Tekla, Solibri, AutoCAD, CADduct, Innovaya, and Google SketchUP.

Learning the software can be done in various ways and the duration of the learning process can also vary depending on the learning method used and the knowledge level desired. Autodesk, for example, has what they phrase as “Autodesk University” which is a learning center that facilitates the learning of the various software programs they provide. This can be done either online or in person. The online courses can be done at the convenience of the student anywhere and can vary in duration depending on how much is desired to be learned.

The onsite (in person) basic course can be done in (1) one week if the student can manage being in class for an 8 hour duration for five days straight. Alternative sessions are also available depending on the region and the desired class. This is, as mentioned, giving the student the basic functionality of that particular software. Upon completion of these classes a certificate of completion is issued and an additional test for a “Certified Working Professional” certificate can be obtained.

On line universities, such as The Academy of Design and Technology, offer an Associate’s Degree in Building Information Modeling which is new to the industry. This course’s duration is approximately 1 ½ – 2 years in length depending on the amount of classes attended at the same time and will earn the student a ASBIM degree. The student will be required to learn multiple software applications as well as learn common practices and principles used in the AEC industry. Although the student will have a degree in BIM, most will not have worked in the industry and will not have the knowledge needed to work as a standalone designer. This brings to mind the famous quote by Coach John Wooden “it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts”.

The position “BIM Specialist” comes in many forms. A research paper done by Maria Bernardete Barison of the State University of Londrina, Brazil and Eduardo Toledo Santos of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil titled “An Overview of BIM specialists” list several types of specialists. The different types they listed are BIM Modeler, BIM Analyst, BIM Application Developer or BIM Software Developer, Modeling Specialist, BIM Facilitator, BIM Consultant, BIM Researcher, and BIM Manager, Chief BIM-Officer. The main qualifier for each title listed was the ability to execute the tasks of one or more of the specialist positions listed depending on the company size he or she is working for.

In a survey done by University of Texas at Arlington titled “Evaluation of training needs for building information modeling (BIM)” done between March and April 2011 of 46 companies ranked in the top 170 BIM Adopters list, participants were asked and responded about the following positions and what the ideal degree of education should be.

60% of those polled responded that a BIM Design Technician should have a Bachelor’s degree.

70% of those polled responded that a Junior BIM Manager should have a Bachelor’s degree.

70% of those polled responded that a BIM Manager should have a Bachelor’s degree.

50 % of those polled responded that a BIM Coordinator should have should have a Bachelor’s degree or Graduate or Professional Degree.

It was reported that 23% of the firms polled utilized BIM or BIM related tools on 75-100% of their projects, and 38% of the firms polled utilize BIM or Bim related tools on 50-75% of their projects.

100 % of those polled responded that between 25-50% of newly hired BIM users had an intermediate level of expertise while 50% of newly hired BIM users had an expert level of expertise.

In a random internet search for BIM Specialist positions currently available on SimplyHired.com the location of Bim Specialists positions were typically in the mid-west and east coast (MN, NY, TN, DL, FL, ILL, WI). No jobs specifically for BIM Specialists were found on the west coast.

The general requirements for the positions were:

Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture, Engineering or Construction Preferred

3-7 years’ experience with modeling software in an architectural or engineering environment

Revit certification required within one year of current version

General knowledge of integrated architectural and engineering practice

Strong supervisory, leadership and communication skills

Experience with project planning and tracking

Knowledge of Microsoft Office (i.e., Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook)

Must be detail-oriented and adaptable

The salaries ranged from $38,000.00 for a MEP Designer (Modeler), to $82,000.00 for a Revit (BIM) Specialist.

In his paper titled “Benefits of building information modeling for construction managers and BIM based scheduling”, Mehmet F. Hergunsel reports that the construction industry has experienced a gradual decrease in its labor productivity since the early 1960’s and makes the association of non-farming industry’s such as the manufacturing industry has increased labor productivity. He assess that this is an indication of the construction industry needing cost saving ideas. The adoption of BIM methods and methodologies greatly improves the ability to prefabricate projects, and greatly reduces the costs of construction. It also aids in the monitoring of critical path items that can greatly delay a project schedule. It improves cost estimating for future projects, and creates a Record Model of the completed project when finished. The top uses of BIM for contractors and design teams are clash detection, visualization, and creation of accurate as built models.

In a paper titled “Building Information Modeling: Understanding and Operating in a New Paradigm” by Words & Images it is reported that DPR Construction, a California-based, nationwide construction company, is aggressively pursuing BIM implementations with their projects and has already seen significant improvements in efficiency, such as their recent Camino Medical Group project, a 250,000 square-foot medical office building.

As a direct result of BIM and the collaboration and coordination inherent in the process, DPR construction achieved these impressive results:

Labor productivity was 15 percent to 30 percent better than industry standards.

Less than 0.2 percent re-work was required on the HVAC system.

There were no change orders related to field conflict issues.

There were only two field issues related to RFIs.

There were no conflicts between the systems that were modeled and coordinated using BIM. Normally on comparable projects, an estimated 100 to 200 conflicts must be resolved in the field using traditional methods

According to DPR’s Atul Khanzode and Dean Reed: “Collaborate, really collaborate. A strong collaborative environment was cultivated on the Camino Medical project. The spirit and enthusiasm to drive true change, shared by all the major players, helped to overcome the lack of experience some parties had in using 3-D modeling tools and Lean construction processes. Co-locating the design and detailing teams in the Big Room, where detailers worked side by side to construct designs virtually and resolved conflicts and issues immediately further facilitated a highly integrated project delivery. The detailers used shared resources, including a network server, printers and plotters. All construction documents were generated from this one room. Weekly meetings were held to review progress and analyze and correct clashes using the 3-D model.”

At a national meeting today of the BIMForum in Tacoma WA, McGraw-Hill Construction presented highlights of its new research showing the rapid advance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) usage by architects, engineers, contractors and owners in North America. Comparing results from its similar research in 2007 and 2009, McGraw-Hill Construction finds:

•           The percentage of companies using BIM jumped from 17% in 2007, to 49% in 2009, to 71% in 2012;

•           For the first time ever, more contractors (74%) are using BIM than architects (70%);

•           All users report increased business benefits from BIM including better profits, more accurate documentation, less rework, reduced project duration, fewer claims and the ability to offer new services;

•           Almost 40% of BIM users are heavily committed to it, doing over 60% of their work in BIM. This group has surged by 44% since 2009;

•           As a sign of its increasing acceptance and maturity, almost half (49%) of BIM users have five or more years’ experience using it.

“This unique multi-year trend data demonstrates clearly that BIM is taking hold in the design and construction industry because it has proven business value,” says Stephen Jones, Senior Director at McGraw-Hill Construction and lead author of the research.

“This research confirms the wide acceptance and commitment to BIM, even during one of the most challenging times for the AEC industry,” said Phil Bernstein, FAIA and vice president, strategic industry relations at Autodesk. “The results confirm what we are hearing from our customers on the positive impact BIM-based process change is having on the design, construction and operations of their projects.”

As the industry moves forward the adoption of BIM during the design and construction process has greatly increased the need for BIM Specialists and supporting positions. It is apparent by the research that the need for educated, experienced, and trained BIM specialists will greatly increase the efficiency and productivity of the AEC industry. The BIM Specialist will have an important role in the transitions from the current practices in the AEC industry to IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) and BIM in an effort to create a more competitive advantage for the organization he or she is associated with.



Works Cited

Barison, Maria. “An Overview of BIM Specialists.” Nottingham University Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.

“Building Information Modeling: Understanding and Operating in a New Paradigm | Sharpe Interior Systems.” Building Information Modeling: Understanding and Operating in a New Paradigm | Sharpe Interior Systems. Words & Images, n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2012. <http://www.sharpeinteriorsystems.com/articles/building-information-modeling-understanding-and-operating-new-paradigm>.

Dey, Rajib. “The History of the BIM and the Success Story Till Date.” BIM: Building Information Modeling Blog. Global Associates, 30 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <http://bim-modeling.blogspot.com/2010/12/history-of-bim-and-success-story-till.html>.

EVALUATION OF TRAINING NEEDS FOR BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING (BIM). Rep. N.p.: University of Texas at Arlington, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.

Hergunsel, Mehmet. “Benefits of Building Information Modeling for Construction Managers and BIM Based Scheduling.” WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, May 2011. Web. 25 Sept. 2012.

“Job Search Made Simple | Simply Hired.” Job Search Made Simple | Simply Hired. Simply Hired, 25 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <http://www.simplyhired.com/>.

Malangone, Kathy. “New Research by McGraw-Hill Construction Shows Dramatic Increase in Use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in North America.” McGraw-Hill Construction (October 11, 2012): Pages 1. 11/29/2012 < http://www.construction.com/about-us/press/new-research-by-MHC-shows-dramatic-increase-in-use-of-BIM-in-North-America.asp>.

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