The Approach of Global Field Players in Delivering BIM Education

Updated: Jun 27, 2019


Globally, architectural, engineering, construction, and operation (AECO) industry is delivering complex projects with Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the project processes and workflows. And, AECO industry is inclined towards employing graduates with exposure to BIM tools, techniques and processes. In line with today’s AECO industry necessities, universities are running a wide range of BIM courses, for exposing AECO students to this new paradigm shift. However, today's academic BIM education is not completely integrated with other AECO programs in Tertiary Education System (TES). Hence, this study draws on a review and analysis of publications related to BIM teaching practices in academia. Here, textual and content analysis methods were employed to arrange qualitative textual data into similar sets of entities or conceptual categories to analyze current global BIM education trends. In this study, review, and analysis of BIM education-related publications indicated that BIM technology and processes related knowledge is currently at different levels of realization across the globe. An overview of BIM education, awareness and adoption in twenty (20) countries are graphically represented in Figure 1.

Figure 1: BIM educational approaches across the globe

Generally, active BIM field players in the government bodies provide incentives and also conduct collaborative projects to encourage BIM education. Some of the representative cases include: (1) ‘Code BIM project’ in Australia that provides collaborative building design education using BIM; (2) the ‘UK’s BIM 2016 mandate project’ that has enabled to produce `BIM ready’ graduates; (3) Housing Department of Hong Kong Government who is supporting BIM training for AECO discipline students; (4) BuildingSMART Norway that has key role in influencing Norway’s government in relation to BIM education; and (5) Nigeria’s initiative in offering global accreditation model recommendation. Global BIM educational approaches can be further categorized and summarized by classifying it into five topics (see Table 1 for details): (1) government promoting BIM education; (2) BIM education by policy field players; (3) BIM adoption in TES; (4) BIM education-related events/conferences; (5) BIM certification/training programs. Different approaches adopted by the BIM field players in different regions for delivering BIM education are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Table 1: Categorization of BIM educational approaches across the globe

In line with today’s necessities, this study reviewed and analyzed 70 BIM education-related publications ranging from 2010 to the present day from 24 countries by combining textual and content analysis. This process of a literature review of global BIM education research trends was further categorized into three levels of conceptual categories i.e. level 1, 2 & 3. An interactive map 1 (takes a few seconds to load), in which detailed information behind this conceptual categorization and associated BIM education publications are visualized, is accessible through the link below. The map allows users to filter BIM education publications under three levels of conceptual categories and visualize the list of BIM papers falling under it. The users can also click on a country they are interested in and view the BIM papers associated with that country. The users can also filter publications based on publication type & year.

Interactive map 1: Conceptual Categorization of Global BIM Educationalists & Researchers’ Efforts in Delivering Academic BIM Education.

These categories show that these global BIM educationalists and researchers have been addressing the questions of (a) “why” we need BIM education for TEIs, (b) “what” to teach in academic BIM education, and (c) “how” to develop academic BIM education at different working levels (i.e. the framework, curriculum, and course levels) and overcome related barriers, in order to take BIM education in TES's to next level. These categories are arranged according to the flow of BIM education development flow to help BIM educators to understand issues they ought to consider in different phases of BIM education development. Our analysis highlights the relationship between current tertiary BIM education and visualization.

Policy field Players

Policy field players such as BIM educationalists and researchers in different regions have laid efforts for setting up BIM education at university level. These BIM players especially at Northern and Southern America, Northern and Western Europe, Eastern and Western Asia and Oceania are playing an active role in research linked to BIM education and in course development for different tertiary education levels.

In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of literature on experimenting and evaluating the BIM courses. BIM course experimentation was undertaken by several USA educationalists with few concepts such as; (1) Sustainability with green concepts (Stone & King 2015); (2) Project execution planning processes (Ayer et al. 2015); (3) Laser scanning technology for rehabilitation (Shanbari et al. 2015). Some of the policy field players also tested BIM course with several techniques such as: (1) Professor-students collaboration (Dederichs et al. 2011); (2) Project-based learning (Wu & Luo 2015); (3) Team process (Mccuen 2015); (4) Industry-academia alliance (Graham et al. 2015); (4) Career oriented BIM education (Wu & Issa 2013), to prepare students for today’s AECO industry requirements.

Northern and Southern America

BIM educationalists and researchers have invested their efforts in educating AEC department students at both Northern (Canada and USA) and Southern America (Brazil). Few of these efforts are discussed here: (1) Canadian universities work in development of BIM certification programs for students, technicians, managers and designers (Rooney 2015); (2) In United States, more than half of the university own BIM education programs (Sah & Cory 2009; Clevenger et al. 2010; Holland et al. 2010; Becerik-Gerber et al. 2011; Lee & Dossick 2012; Gier 2015); (3) Brazilian educationalists at the University of Sao Paulo and State University of Londrina are active participators in BIM adoption for research and educating students (Barison & Santos 2010, 2012b).

Curriculum design, testing and appraisal process has been undertaken by several policy field players in this region. For instance, BIM educationalists in the United States, Sah & Cory (2009) reported on the benefits seen by phased integration of BIM into the academic curriculum by computer graphics, industrial technology, and civil engineering departments of Purdue University. Lee & Dossick (2012) in their research, analyzed various applications of BIM education from literature and finally established a BIM education framework to integrate BIM into construction engineering and management (CEM) curriculum at University of Washington and East Carolina University. Recently, Gier (2015) in his study demonstrated that model-based method analysis courses can be an effective framework for improving the learning environments which allowed construction management students at California State University, Chico to learn how to use BIM software, while applying construction concepts to real-world, project-based assignments. And, Brazilian educationalists, Barison and Santos (2010, 2012a,b) had attempted to address the main obstacles encountered with BIM teaching, as well as to give examples of how to overcome them and introduce new strategies at introductory, intermediary and advanced levels with different collaboration types such as single, interdisciplinary and distance collaboration.

Northern and Western Europe

Policy field players, at both Northern (Denmark and Norway) and Western Europe (UK, Ireland, Netherlands, and Belgium) had laid constant efforts in diffusing BIM education at university level. Universities in Denmark (Aalborg University, Copenhagen University, College of Engineering Denmark, Technical University Denmark, etc.) had embraced the need for BIM in academia (Dederichs et al. 2011). Norwegian educationalists had driven the BIM education in universities by organizing open BIM course and special BIM study groups. BIM mandate 2016 in the UK is driving BIM education in most of the UK universities to produce ‘BIM ready’ graduates (Horne et al. 2005; Salman 2014). Irish educational institutions such as Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Manooth (NUIM) are playing an active role in training the students to become BIM ready graduates. Also, new multidisciplinary educational institutes are set up to cater to today's multi-disciplinary and inter-organizational BIM education (McDonald & Donohoe 2013). Dutch universities and its academicians at TU Delft, University of Twente, and Eindhoven University of technology are active in BIM course introduction. Similarly, the Belgian universities embrace BIM by teaching BIM concepts, as tools, technology and as a process (Boeykens et al. 2013).

In the year 2011, the UK cabinet office published the Government’s construction strategy, announcing its plan to achieve collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being digital) on public projects by 2016. Together with the UK’s AECO industry, its government has set out on a four-year program to reduce capital expenditure and carbon emission from construction and operation of their built environment by 20% through modernization of building sector (Underwood & Ayoade 2015). Such a planned transformation of the AECO industry has significant implications for the education providers in ensuring that they meet the demands required of future professionals. In accordance with above requirements, BAF, which serves as conduit between AECO industry and the UK’s HEIs for delivering BIM education has developed BIM education framework, BIM education assessment matrix and core learning outcomes for levels 4, 5, 6 (undergraduate) and 7 (postgraduate) to facilitate knowledge and practical skills of BIM (Underwood & Ayoade 2015). Also, BIM educationalists and researchers from the UK had analyzed that: what roles architectural technology graduates should play before and after 2016 BIM mandate and how the educational institutions should educate them for such roles. They further suggested the need of both contextual teaching and training of BIM, and stronger ties with AECO industry to overcome the current transitional stage (Salman 2014).

Eastern and Western Asia and Oceania

BIM educationalists and researchers in Asia and Oceania, especially in Eastern (i.e. Hong Kong and Taiwan), Western part of Asia (i.e. Israel and the Middle East) and Australia had invested more efforts in diffusing BIM into the academic curriculum. Few of the Hong Kong universities offer optional BIM courses. For example, BRE of PolyU works in integrating BIM curriculum based on Discipline Specific Requirements (DSR) exercise (Wong et al. 2011). Taiwanese educationalists put efforts in the development of new civil engineering related courses at National Taiwan University and National Cheng Kung University (Capart et al. 2013; Chen et al. 2014). Educationalists and researchers in the UAE region are integrating BIM in their TES (Ibrahim 2006; Heintz 2010). Academicians in Israel University work to integrate BIM in the curricula (Pikas et al. 2013). Also, Australian technical and future education (TAFE) colleges have invested many efforts in incorporating BIM into the syllabus.

In Eastern Asia (China) and Western Asia (Israel, Middle East, and Turkey), BIM educationalists and researchers have contributed towards BIM education research. To name few, Tongji University in China is actively contributing to BIM academic research by implementing simultaneous collaboration for the applications based on BIM and internet-based construction collaboration model, describing the organization and communications of construction project among the project participants (Hu 2007). Few educationalists of Israel had developed a detailed framework of thirty-nine (39) BIM topics and classified them into three main areas of competence (i.e. processes, technology, and application). Different levels of achievement expected by the AEC industry has been defined with three levels of education (first degree, master’s degree, and work experience) for each topic. This can be used by educators to plan and evaluate BIM content and by employers to evaluate BIM skills and knowledge of the candidate (Sacks & Pikas 2013). Four courses were planned, implemented, and evaluated over three semesters by them, concluding that BIM should be introduced not only as a topic, but more importantly as a tool for performing engineering tasks taught within the design, analysis, and management courses (Pikas et al. 2013). UAE educationalist Ibrahim (2006) had established a relationship between pedagogical techniques and the success of students to grasp what BIM is about and the development of their ability to use it fruitfully. Heintz (2010) in his study looked at, how student and faculty networks can potentially improve learning outcomes and how institutions might be benefited by sharing faculty, students and university resources. His study also looks into new hybrid conditions within design institutes that mediate between physical and virtual classrooms. Also, a few Turkish educational activists enhanced the curriculum of the architecture program at Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) with BIM pedagogy i.e. a concurrent course in BIM to run alongside studio classes to meet the challenges of today’s industry requirement (Elinwa & Agboola 2013).

Technology and Process Field Players

A few BIM organizations, non-profit BIM groups, BIM unions, training councils and few other technology and process field players across the globe (especially in Northern America, Northern and Western Europe, Eastern Asia, Australia, and New Zealand) presented their efforts in providing BIM education in academia (briefed in detail below).

Northern America

In Northern America, BRE-Canada, a world-leading, multi-disciplinary, building science center is in collaboration with George Brown College and in the process of delivering a vendor-neutral, open standard, buildingSMART approach type of program or certification.

Northern and Western Europe

In Northern (Norway and Finland) and Western Europe (UK and Netherland): the UK’s NBS commits to educating industry professionals and students. The buildingSMART Norway released an educational program focusing on how students should behave in a multidisciplinary open BIM environment. They also delivered a teaching plan to be used on courses for the BIM educators. Local vendors of Finland GraphiSOFT are active in providing BIM education to students and AECO industry stakeholders. Finnish construction firms like Skanska and Senaatti (state client office) organize focused in-house training as required. Recently, buildingSMART Netherlands in collaboration with buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bsDD) reached an agreement for the concept library project.

Eastern Asia

In Eastern Asia (i.e. China, Hong Kong, and Korea): China BIM Union, an organization that has been established to promote the development of China BIM technology, standards, and software, has given many educational presentations to BIM professionals (Rooney 2015). The vocational training council (VTC) of Hong Kong has included BIM training in their construction related higher diploma programs. Construction Industry Council (CIC) of Hong Kong is in collaboration and training institutes like VTC to raise AECO industry awareness of BIM by organizing BIM promotional activities. In Korea, the eduBIM was developed and turn out to be the first private BIM u-education system with open BIM library (Jeon & Eom 2011).

Australia and New Zealand

In Oceania (i.e. Australia and New Zealand): NATSPEC, a standard provider in Australian for the exchange of digital building information, is actively participating from past 3-4 years in providing BIM education to undergraduate students at Australian universities. AIA BIM group of Australia is collaborating with Curtin University, University of Western Australia, Central TAFE and CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) to advance BIM education (Gardner et al. 2014). Construction Information Limited (CIL) in New Zealand is constantly pushing a series of BIM seminars to local product manufacturers and professionals.


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I am thankful to Prof. Shang-Hsien Hsieh for his support throughout this research process. I also like to thank Ms. Rikrey Rechil Marak for her contributions in language editing of this article. And, special thanks to my parents for their constant support in life.

About the Author

Dr. Amarnath Chegu Badrinath is a Change Agent for Digital Built and BIM Adoption in Indian AECO Sector. He is the Founder and President of the National BIM Society - India Building Information Modelling Association. Over the course of his career, he held positions as Researcher Assistant, Assistant Professor, Entrepreneur and Advisory in India, Taiwan, Spain and UK. He has research experience of nine years in the field of BIM and Digitalization at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, National Taiwan University, Imperial College London and University of Barcelona combined. He has participated in few international conferences published journal papers and book chapters in this area. His key research focus is on two directions i.e. Establishing BIM project strategies; and BIM education & training. And these two directions merge with what can be considered the main shortage in India Construction Policies: how BIM can help the huge amount of new infrastructure and building projects and how BIM would have to be introduce in the learning plans and syllabus of all AECO universities. He is an Advisory Member for EU BIM Observatory and BIMCrew. Country Editor (India) for BIM Dictionary – BIMe initiative. Member of CIOB, ASCE & RICS. Editorial team member for IJM&P journal and ISCCCBE technical committee member. Dr. Amarnath CB is playing an active role as an Advisory Member for several Digital Built India initiatives and he can be contacted through Linkedin, Facebook, ResearchGate, Skype:, Mob: +91 9686623376