Transition of architects and engineers to BIM

FIRST OF ALL, I would like to personally thank all our colleagues and Building Information Model (BIM) enthusiasts who have read and noticed my article published on September 28, 2021 titled “BIM Adaptation for Filipino Architects”, I appreciate all personal messages, comments and sharing of the article with others.

Today, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is well aware that over the past few years, under the Philippine government’s flagship Build, Build, Build program , many of the major government projects carried out by the Bases Conversion Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways required designers and builders to use licensed BIM software in the design and construction process of construction projects. This technical mandate has increased the need for BIM service providers, qualified personnel, specialists, trainers and consultants. The government recognizes the benefits of using this technology and has taken this bold step to bring industry to use the BIM workflow in the design and construction of construction projects.

I am sharing thoughts and concepts from a presentation I made on October 30, 2021 with the UAP QC Capitol chapter titled “Transition from CAD to BIM for architects”. The conference addressed the concerns of many architects on how to move from a 2D drafting platform to BIM, which is more complicated but has proven to be a more efficient way to produce building designs and coordinated infrastructure. BIM workflow has been the best practice not only in architectural design, it is now the go-to strategy also in building engineering and construction worldwide.

Over 100 architects and industry partners attended the presentation and I certainly hope to reach more professionals and students by writing down the excitement of bringing design ideas to life more efficiently using the flow of BIM work.

Let’s start by looking back at the history of computer-aided design. The beginnings of computer-aided design (CAD) date back to the year 1957, when Dr. Patrick Hanratty developed Pronto, the first commercial numerically controlled programming system. In 1960, Ivan Sutherland created Sketchpad, which demonstrated the basic principles and feasibility of computer-based technical drawing. Some people wonder which of these people really created the first CAD system. That being said, most people agree that Hanratty invented the first computer-aided design system.

In the Philippines in the 1990s, CAD subjects were already included in the architecture curriculum and other engineering programs because the Higher Education Commission foresaw the need for our graduates to be up to snuff. global competition in computer science education. While in college, we started using AutoCAD versions 10 and 11, which was already Windows-based software at the time compared to the disk operating system-based version used by our contemporaries more aged in the 1980s. Our group was also fortunate to be among the first to use our state-of-the-art computer lab, which was acquired by the Polytechnic University of the College of Engineering and Architecture of Philippines with a grant from Japan.

Thirty years later, the majority of architects and engineers still surprisingly use the same technology in the production of building plans. So how do you move from this current delayed state to the end use of BIM? Here is my suggested six-point agenda of what to consider:

Awareness – This is a good start as most architects and engineers are already aware of the advantages and benefits of BIM. The many conferences, seminars and online training on the subject of BIM and its software have raised this awareness in our minds. The same understanding will lead us forward as our thought process would like to learn further. Additionally, BIM is best associated with these vocabularies – time-saving, smart, adaptive, coordinated, customer-trusted, and virtual-ready. If you keep these six words in mind, your thoughts will always inspire you to acquire more knowledge and skills until you achieve your goal of being an informed and BIM-capable building professional.

Upskill – To be “compatible” with BIM, upskilling is essential. Discover the various digital design and BIM software widely used in the industry. The cloud-based document management system is also an additional skill that accompanies a competitive BIM professional. There are various online trainings available and as things are now improving in the new normal, more face-to-face training options are opening up to feed your mind.

Acquire hardware and software – We’ve gone beyond pens and paper to fully digital practice on a global scale, so this is a must-have for a BIM professional. There are various options for acquiring these expensive assets, such as paying monthly installments for the software and purchasing high-specification refurbished workstations for your hardware needs. It is also highly recommended for BIM professionals to have an IT (Information Technology) person as a friend so that you can be properly guided in acquiring and maintaining these essentials.

CAD is still useful – No worries because CAD will not be removed as many rumors might suggest. Your CAD library is something you can also bring along when migrating from 2D to BIM workflow. You will know that there is a special place not only for your CAD files but also for your CAD skills in BIM software.

Self-implementation – You have to believe that BIM works! Once you implement BIM as part of your design and construction workflow, you will develop a strong faith in what it can bring to your current and future projects. You must have concrete experience, be the first beneficiary of the advantages of BIM before you can convince your customers, your colleagues and your subordinates.

Sharing – Knowledge is the greatest gift, as cited in many places in many timelines. It is something that gets richer as we continue to pass it on. BIM knowledge is no exception, the more we share it with someone, a group or a community, the more it will benefit us in return and in many ways.

Aristotle Basa is a Qatar-based Filipino architect and BIM specialist with over 20 years of experience in the design and construction management of the built environment. He is currently employed by a Qatari construction company as a BIM manager. He advocates helping other AEC professionals learn BIM concepts and processes and train in BIM software through group and personalized tutorials.