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WIB Mentor Scheme 2020 – Their story

This article is written by 2020 Mentor Salla Palos and Mentee Sarah Causey.

As part of the Women in BIM Mentor Scheme in 2020, Salla and Sarah were perfectly matched and below they each describe their experience during this journey and the amazing relationship they were able to create.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Opinion

International Women’s Day 2021

This article is written Giulia Pustorino, Regional Lead for Cumbria, UK.

Since early 1900, in March, the International Women’s Day has been celebrated all around the world. Worldwide, the celebration varies to remember women’s rights. I was born and raised in Italy, where to celebrate women on the 8th of March, men donated yellow mimosas to women.

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Women in BIM 2021 Events

Women in BIM (WIB) will be hosting a series of online events throughout 2021 which will focus on the adoption and implementation of BIM and Digital Construction around the world.

We will also be giving updates on our work in education and careers – an area that is growing for WIB and new developments for WIB education will be coming later in the year. 

In addition, through our events we plan to give updates on the WIB Mentor Scheme and reports and stories on its successful first year in 2020. 

We very much hope to host face to face events again soon, but until then we will meet virtually and continue to give our Members the opportunity to discuss some important topics. Please use the Events page on our website to learn more about our events and we will update you as soon as they go live!

Our first webinar for this year will take place on Thursday 1 April, this will be a summary of our 2020 activities and our ambitions for 2021.  We will discuss our projects, the growth of our team and where our focus will be for the remainder of the year.  We will also give our Members a detailed look into our new website and Members Resource Zone which will help you to reach out and link to other Members in your region of the world. 

We will also share with our Members updates on BIM implementation in the UK and surrounding the UK BIM Framework as well as a discussion on the impact of the policy across our sector. Register for our first Webinar for the 2021 here.  

And new for 2021, is a webinar series hosted by our Regional Leads in Australia. These virtual events will look at the impact of future career developments in BIM and Digital Engineering and what a career in this area may look like. 

We will host four webinars in this series on the following dates – save these dates in you calendars and we will make registration live in the coming weeks: 

May 5, 2021. 11.30am ACDT
June 16, 2021, 11.30am ACDT
July 11, 2021. 11.30am ACDT 
September 8, 2021. 11.30am ACDT

To enquire further about any of our events, please contact our Global Administrator at info@womeninbim.org.

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Special thanks as we say farewell to Katya Veleva

Katya Veleva will be stepping down as Mentor Lead and Core Team Member of Women in BIM on Monday 8 March 2021.

We would like to thank Katya for all of her incredible hard work and dedication on the Women in BIM Mentor Scheme, and for the immense value she has added to the group during her time as a Core Team Member. 

Katya will be sorely missed by the WIB Core Team and our Global Chair Rebecca De Cicco, had this to say about Katya’s involvement across the last 12 months: “Katya has been instrumental in the development and roll-out of our WIB Mentor Scheme, executing, engaging and delivering on our core themes and philosophies. Her work, level of commitment and support has been a truly incredible part of our global development and we wish her all the very best in her future endeavours”. 

The WIB Mentor Scheme for 2021 will continue under the leadership of our Global Vice Chair, Vicki Reynolds alongside the rest of the core team. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at mentor@womeninbim.org.

Download the Women in BIM Mentor Handbook
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WIB Mentor Scheme 2021

In early 2020 we launched our Mentor Scheme and one year on we look back on the success of the scheme, lessons learned and what comes next in this programme she designed for personal and professional development of WIB members.

The WIB BIMentor scheme was set up as a natural progression of our core values and objectives of diversity and inclusion, and always striving to integrate and nurture the talent and capabilities of women in BIM related roles.

Over the past few years there have been many instances when our members have struggled with confidence and self-belief, many people in business have exceptional skills, but societal and cultural expectations suppress their ability to self-promote.

One of the most wonderful things about WIB is the support our members have for each other and their generosity with their encouragement and resources. Therefore at the end of 2019 we decided to formalise this support and created the mentoring scheme: BIMentor.

We launched at the end of February 2020 and the process was very simple, we invited all our members to take part and asked them to either sign up to be a Mentor or Mentee – as you would expect we received more Mentee applications than Mentors – we had originally planned to start with 10 matches but ended up starting with 20!

However, without wishing to disappoint those who were not matched with a Mentor, we set up a series of group mentoring events in which we had 40 participants – these were very well received and we plan to deliver more later this year.

When we started the programme we had no idea what condition the world would be in today, but fortuitously it was the perfect timing. Due to the geographical spread of our members, it was always the plan for parts of the mentoring programme to be delivered virtually, therefore we were ahead of the curve! Over the past 12 months we have seen some excellent mentoring partnerships lead to technical, personal and business growth.

We saw an exceptionally high level of interest in the mentoring scheme from members (and non-WIB members) in non-English speaking countries, women in these regions wishing to expand their knowledge base in BIM and digital construction and as such our membership based has also grown internationally .

At the top of the take-away list for me is that there are even more amazing women out there wanting to grow their BIM skills and within our network we have some exceptionally talented individuals who have sacrificed their time to support and nurture others.

As for what comes next, we have future growth plans and have now launched our 2021 programme. We are inviting anyone (not just WIB members) with a professional background in BIM to join the programme as a Mentor, we wish to increase the number of matches this year and unite people with a passion for technology and collaboration in construction.

The purpose of BIMentor is to encourage and empower our members in personal development and professional growth. Eliminating self-doubt and helping to identify and achieve career goals whilst being able to identify and correct gaps in skill sets.

As well as the transferral of critical business knowledge, BIMentor has helped to develop a pipeline of future BIM specialists who understand the skills and attributes needed to succeed within the digital built environment.

Thoughts on the future of construction
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Thoughts on the future of construction

Over the past few years the built environment has witnessed significant transformational change, no less than in the introduction of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Internet of Things combined with the advancement of Smart City technology and the Digital Twin. 

As 2020 draws to a close, we begin to question what lies ahead for the future of construction and what will 2021 and beyond look like. 

We asked three global built environment experts what has impressed them the most in the past five years and what future technology trends they predict for 2021.

Women in BIM core team members Rebecca De Cicco, Director of Digital Node, Vicki Reynolds, Head of Digital at i3PT Certification and Dr Jennifer Barrett, Senior Lecturer and Researcher for the University of Central Lancashire express their views on what has worked well, what has been instrumental in driving digitalisation and what comes next.

What has impressed you the most in the digital built environment in the past five years?

Rebecca De Cicco “As an advocate for global unity and having worked with governments and organisations all over the world, it is clear that the UK Government’s commitment to the development of a BIM Policy has been an impressive and incredibly forward thinking approach toward change for an industry so desperately lagging behind. 

The globalisation of construction industry standards in the UK, with the development of the ISO 19650 series, was certainly a turning point and one that has been instrumental in export opportunities. I have seen that the use of technology and process in construction in this way has driven industry to upskill and educate and therefore brought about enormous change.

The varying initiatives in the UK for BIM have influenced a wider digital debate with the development of the National Digital Twin (NDT) and the Information Management Framework to support the implementation of the NDT. These policies and principles are now seeing momentum globally, with the uptake of the terms used and the language around these concepts becoming more mainstream.”

Vicki Reynolds “The built environment is vast, with an exceptionally broad range of stakeholder types, capability levels and needs. Often, when looking at the industry from a single angle it may seem that the rate of change is happening frustratingly slowly, but in reality the job at hand is huge, and driving change in an environment such as  this is incredibly hard. With that in mind, I am proud and impressed by the progress we have made so far. 

The work of the UK BIM Alliance and the development of the ISO 19650 suite of BIM standards has been a considerable achievement, and the innovative work the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is doing to explore and drive the use of digital twins across the built environment is exceptional. 

If you consider how, as an industry, we might have reacted to a global pandemic five years ago it would have been very different – although pre-Covid we weren’t quite using digital tools day to day, we did at least have them available, making the transition to home working must easier than it would have been in 2015. We are certainly moving in the right direction.”

Jennifer Barrett “When I started working in UK construction in the early 1990s, the industry was considered adversarial and it was perceived to be lagging behind in comparison to some other industries.  Communication was seen to be a key barrier to excellence and equally, innovation was lacking as supply chains, designers, contractors and different professional disciplines struggled to work together in a competitive environment.  In recent years however, the industry has changed, responding to the digital revolution and more importantly, the realisation of a shared goal.  

The digitalisation of communication has been a challenge and a real culture change for many businesses, and particularly difficult for long standing members of the industry who have been used to more traditional forms of collaboration for many years.  But the industry has embraced this challenge and appropriated many forms of digital collaboration which have not only improved communication via standard forms such as email or online forums, but also tailored portal solutions.    

This has brought us closer to each other, allowing us to develop good relationships and shared knowledge globally, rather than just with those in geographical proximity.  It has also allowed us to communicate better with our clients, users and stakeholders.”

What has had the greatest impact in the shift to digitalisation? 

Rebecca “The work around international standards spins into the wider digital landscape for the implementation framework around smart cities. The UK has driven the adoption of the PAS suite of documents to also globalise the initiative with the ISO 37106 and Smart City Standards being more widely used and acknowledged across the world. And with the development of the technology, it also comes with new skills and education requirements. 

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is a framework for describing and managing skills and competencies for professionals working in Information and Communication Technologies, software engineering and digital transformation. This is by no means exempt when discussing skill requirements in construction and the acknowledgement of this framework and use of this documentation, but it is something I am very impressed by when it comes to change. 

As construction and digitalisation further infuse our current working environment, we are witnessing greater demand for enhanced technical compatibility and collaboration, and it is this visionary thinking that is influencing decisions makers the most.”

Vicki “Smart(er) machines that use machine learning to make better decision and increase efficiency on site are no longer something we simply talk about, these now exist and are fully operational. 

Smart technology has the power to anticipate potential systemic transformations, enabling the necessary strategic dialogue needed to analyse change and, as a consequence, unlock new and visionary approaches to digital information management.

This way of working allows us to reveal dynamic change and use these insights to reach sustainable solutions and greater building process efficiencies. Not to mention breaking through communication barriers and seeing how current and alternative development pathways may affect the future. 

Jennifer “Cloud based industry-wide initiatives are allowing us to close knowledge gaps and share visions to increase our potential for interdisciplinary thinking and generate more collaboration across the design chain to embrace the challenges of BIM and the possibilities that the internet of things might offer for the built environment.

This is bringing about a change of culture and it’s one that will not only allow us to take advantage of the digital innovations that can improve our working practices and enable new business models, but also the buildings that we create.  Better interdisciplinary thinking has empowered us to rethink the contracts that we work within and forced us to break out of our professional silos to create universal standards and real solutions to the challenges that lie ahead, such as climate change and inclusivity in design.

This openness to change and improved communication has been brought into sharp focus by the global Covid pandemic.  There have been years of dialogue about how the built environment might operate in a digital future, but lockdown restrictions motivated everyone to act quickly and to adopt many of these ideas about remote working and collaboration, even if the risks and pitfalls had not yet been resolved.  This is a noticeable change in the construction industry, which had previously been so risk averse.  

What are your future technology trend predictions for 2021?

Rebecca “As an industry we are thwart with fear when it comes to how technology will begin to change how we live and work. Having said this, and being the digital evangelist I am, I feel that there is much to look forward to when looking to the future and how technologies will advance how we deliver simple tasks. For me it is about using consistent frameworks for delivery, this is very important when it comes to avoiding risk and dispute on projects and therefore more stringent rules around Information Management and the Information Management Framework both in the UK and Globally is one way this can be achieved. 

Digital Twin and Smart Cities are becoming common terms, but what I do predict is the implementation on a more detailed and advanced level of some of the concepts, not only driven by technology but also by the International standards to support the development of the Smart City Initiative and the uptake of ISO 37106 as well as ISO 37120 series for smart city indicators. 

As the world changes, and our city infrastructure become more intelligent, it will be something that I feel will certainly be a big game changer heading into 2021. Using open data, technological advancements to capture city data and then the use of individual digital twins to inform the wider city landscape, will certainly be driven more heavily in construction across the world. 

Vicki “Technology shapes so much around us and has long played an important role in our industry, influencing fundamental processes in design and operation. As we step into the next decade, two factors are the major players in the future of our ongoing digital transformation: the Golden Thread and Digital Twin.

Implementation of the Golden Thread will change the way we work, potentially disrupting the way we manage contracts, with interoperability becoming key to success. Whereas, a digital twin of the built environment will be able to unlock the full potential of the virtual outcome-based service provision, by linking the physical and virtual asset in real-time. These two factors are not stand alone and full digital integration will see an industry which builds faster and smart, in ways we have never witnessed before. 

The use of the digital twin ensures that data is always flowing and creating a digital twin network means new opportunities for the way we use and interpret data, and it is this data that is fed into the golden thread and will keep our construction and infrastructure assets safe. 

Jennifer “Whilst the digital progression of construction has been impressive, we’ve still got a lot to do.  But my prediction is that this trajectory of behaviour change will continue.  I think we are at a tipping point in industry digitalisation where we will consolidate the knowledge we have gained so far and reflect on our experiences of 2020 to make significant changes to our organisational cultures.

I believe we will refocus our thinking beyond the nuts and bolts of technology, to think about how we use better the human beings that populate our industry. This will require radical shifts in the way contracts are set up and how project networks can collaboratively share the financial rewards for delivery, rather than maintaining the individualistic contract system that will decreasingly be fit for purpose in the networked digital environment. I also predict that human-centric skills that are often side-lined due to the heavy load of mundane and repetitive tasks involved in project delivery.  An example of this will be the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).  A number of other sectors, such as law and medicine have already applied these innovations.  I predict that AI and ML will be further developed in an industry focussed way to speed up communication flow, as well as communication overload, allowing information automatically to get to the right people at the right time.  

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