By Marianni Limeira, Regional Lead for Alagoas, Brazil and BIM Modeller at GVBIM

Is graduating from traditional undergraduate education such as the civil construction sector, enough in the face of the changes and technological advances we see in the world?

This is the question that echoes in the minds of graduates in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) industry. However, knowing what is apparently new, disruptive and attractive to the construction market has become increasingly necessary.

Today, the implementation of BIM in higher education institutions is increasing. Whether with the creation of LaBIMs (Laboratories of BIM Practices and BIM Academic Leagues) or GEBIMs (BIM Extension Group), these choices have become the most frequent alternative among institutions that seek to provide students with training and preparation for the work that they will face when they graduate from graduation.

As an example, in Brazil, we can cite existing groups such as GEBIM-UFAL, GEBIM-SC, LaBIM-UFBA, LABIM-UFCA, and LAMBIM-UFJF, but there are some manifestations of new BIM groups in the country that already has a Network of BIM Cells from ANTAC (National Association of Built Environment Technology).

The GEBIMs and LABIMs are the main drivers of BIM teaching at the undergraduate level. When the student joins these groups, he acquires a unique experience of living and practices how BIM works in the real world in an attempt to remedy the gap left by institutions in relation to the lack of BIM teaching in the curriculum of AEC courses.

At the same time, as members of BIM groups, students acquire the maturity and security of knowing how to deal with projects already inserted and formulated in the BIM methodology, in this new culture of how to build, which is incorporated into the student while still experiencing the course.

Another relevant factor is the NETWORKS created with BIM professionals and specialists already consolidated in the job market, aimed at these students engaged in these BIM groups and opening the door of engineering and architecture companies and studios for contracting and internship programs.

In this context, the ANTAC BIM Cell Network, which is made up of professors and students from an educational institution, inserted and committed to the insertion of a BIM Implementation Plan, was born to give more strength to the implementation of the teaching of BIM in disciplines of the curriculum of the courses aimed at academic actions for digital transformation.

In addition, we know that the Pedagogical Project of the Course (PPC) is a document that guides institutional academic policies based on the National Curriculum Guidelines (DCN). Among other elements, it includes the areas of knowledge essential for the training of future engineers, architects, and other construction professionals with established skills; curriculum structure and content; commentary; basic and complementary bibliography; teaching strategies; teachers; material resources; laboratories and infrastructure to support the academic community during the course development.

In this way, we see that it is essential that the PPC is always updated, as well as its curricular matrix, which is elaborated according to the objectives that are intended to be achieved in the course and are linked to the professional training profile. Therefore, there is a need to urgently insert the teaching of BIM into the curricular matrix of courses in the AEC sector.

However, the course load is extensive and demands a lot of time and effort from students, so what would be the most viable solution to insert more BIM content into academic curricula? It is worth mentioning that the learning process of teaching about BIM takes longer due to the complexity of the topic.

Universities necessarily need to adapt the quality of content transmission because it is not just teaching a tool, it goes far beyond that, it is teaching about BIM as a change in culture (people), processes, and technologies that are the three pillars of BIM. In view of this, the best way to add more innovative knowledge would be to link content on BIM with existing disciplines.

For example, in the Electrical Installations discipline it could be finished as a demonstration of the electrical modeling of a project, teaching the student how to make an electrical project in BIM, as well as in the Hydro-sanitary Installations discipline. Following the same idea as the Electrical Installations discipline and so on – always seeking to link academic subjects with the contents that the BIM methodology addresses.

For this, it is necessary to train the teacher and/or support the BIM groups in the elaboration of this didactic. Thus, it is evident the relevance, like the Engineers, that their professional attributions and specific knowledge are obtained through the curricular matrix studied.

As a result, institutions have to make a commitment to training AEC professionals with a more open view of the innovations and transformations that construction is undergoing, with a solid scientific-technological basis that qualifies them for the new industry 4.0.

Consequently, students will be able to face the new challenges in a critical and reflective way, and also, possibly have new ideas that are ahead of their time, prepared to perform all the legal skills regulated by the CONFEA/CREA/CAU system. Thus, given the technological development and importance of BIM in the construction industry, courses are increasingly focused on the implementation of BIM in their curricula with mandatory and elective courses on BIM learning.

Finally, we will certainly have new engineers and architects applying the BIM methodology in engineering projects and works and developing parameterization, collaboration, and information management, as well as contributing concepts of constructive techniques in information modelling.