The experience of learning and teaching BIM in contexts accustomed to CAD

I had the opportunity to interact with Gabriela at least three times. A first, in those classes at the university where we almost coincide in the Faculty of Civil Engineering; then in the practical class of Construction Technician and later in the project of the Frío River dam in the Cuyamel area, in northern Honduras with the Tunnelboring company. Me in my challenge implementing NeoData and looking for how the surveyors abandoned those old equipment and learned to use the new Leica coming from Munich that already brought the stays with Bar code; she was fighting so that the administrative and the technical were to the rhythm of madness a Colombian boss and another German.

Our recent conversation was so interesting that we decided to turn it into an article. Today, as I usually call her Gab!, Possibly the first BIM Management Master in this context, where she is Honduran at heart, but with the thorn of international entrepreneurship more than promising.

-In Geofumadas in recent years I've talked about BIM, although more indirectly. Would you contextualize us a bit about it for the focus of importance?

Well, although many have already heard of BIM (Building Information Modeling), not many understand what it is to learn the BIM methodology to implement it in companies. Perhaps one way to take it would be to tell you the impressions I have had of my Revit students (Architecture, MEP and Structural) in the BIM environment, initially defining concepts, and then something from my personal experience. you think?.

-But of course. I'm all ears.

In the first place, for those who still hear the acronym BIM, calm, we could say that it is a relatively recent term. Building Information Model (BIM) is defined as an enriched model of information, consisting of several databases, with elements that can be shared by many stakeholders throughout the life cycle of design, construction, operation and even recycling of a building. More or less transliterating the definition of NBS (National Building Specification).

Hence the importance of this methodology, and that is why it has had such great acceptance in developed countries. Because it allows us to work faster, in collaboration, with totally digital files, with better visualization and planning. In addition to consistently organize our projects in accordance with existing regulations, with better controls, conflict detection, cost savings, waste reduction and all in less time.

-Sounds good.

Of course it sounds very good! Although sometimes the theory does not apply to practice, mainly in our developing countries where our economic resources are limited. Even so, I think BIM will prevail sooner or later.

-Well, but let's not be so pessimistic from the beginning. Tell my readers how your experience has been.

Okay. ???? From my personal experience as a consultant and coach BIM. In our Central American countries, CAD is still very important and is widely used. There are very few professionals who use Revit and most only Revit Architecture; they are islands working alone. I've heard of companies where the architect makes his architectural model in Revit, then moves on to AutoCAD so that other contractors and designers can work on it. It really is a waste of time.

Hence the insistence that, if we are going to work with BIM, we must train not only the designers who work in the company, but also the consultants and contractors, to name the most important. I have seen many professionals in my country who are satisfied with their degree and no longer want to study, they do not want to improve. They stay with AutoCAD and that's where the thing died. It's like living in the age of black and white television when there is a whole digital world waiting for us.

-I understand, that reaction to change and stagnation is common in these contexts. But have you seen any BIM implementation in Honduras?

I do not have all the truth, but personally I have not seen BIM implementations in companies still here -talking about methodology, not modeling 3D and rendering only - Sometimes it is a little frustrating and I think a thousand times to emigrate and return in about 10 years, maybe it is already booming at that time. It is amazing all the BIM job offer in other countries, of course it is not easy to make that decision for many reasons -for the time being-.

- And what do you think that influences so that BIM does not walk at the pace we expect?

There are several social and economic factors involved that I will tell you in another publication about why BIM has not finished settling in our Central American countries. Looking on the positive side, I have had the opportunity to train construction professionals in full Revit and I have taken the opportunity to introduce BIM to them. A grain of sand… Most of them have never heard it, but when they make the presentation they are interested; to be able to do complex projects, the renders, the visual part. I try to emphasize the theoretical part, in how they should carry out their projects, I show you some BIM programs that exist in the market such as AutoDesk Revit, Bentley AECOsim, ArchiCAD, the manuals and BIM regulations that exist, in how it is impacting worldwide. I teach them that BIM is not a software or a 3D model, contrary to what some people think, it is a methodology.

-I understand a little. I was an AutoCAD instructor in those days when you had to make analogies between the drawing table, the compass, the parallel ruler, the erasure skull, with the circle, offset, trim commands ...

This picture of the BIM adoption overview, it really amazes my students and professionals to whom I give the talks. BIM in developed countries is having a great reach; in some countries it is already a government regulation. When we start with classes, they are amazed at how easy it is to model in Revit. I really consider AutoCAD complicated compared to Revit because it is so easy to go modeling and see how everything is taking shape. They get excited when they do the tours and videos, when they take the views with the camera and when they can see their final results.

I asked a Civil Engineering student one day what he thought of switching from AutoCAD to Revit, and he told me that it had taken a long time to make the leap. So once they meet him, it's something else, we can spend hours and they become very interested; time flies. I have had students who are not construction professionals as Systems Engineers and they learn the same, they get excited because they say they are going to design their house. So contrary to what many people think, BIM programs are not difficult to learn, but they do require dedication and practice. If you are fluent in English it is easier as there is a lot of online help in that language, but you can always find help in Spanish.

-I was in a BIM course at CentroCAD Nicaragua. A pity that the crisis left me in the middle and we had to complete the course on Skype. But I remember that the practical approach and gradually developing a project was exciting.

Yes, practical development in a gradual process is best. Look at the graphic, the interior render of a house. At the end of the first week, that is, after 17 hours of teaching, I leave you your first project. A two-story house, to be modeled in two days. It's amazing how these BIM modeling programs make our lives easier, and we can work so fast. Here I show you a model delivered by one of my students: Nicolle Valladares.

Then we enter Revit Structures and MEP and this is where things get interesting, because this is new, in most of the courses in my country they only give Architectural Revit. So it is very interesting to see these models as they interact with each other, and how to do the BIM collaboration. As you can see the subprojects by disciplines. In the following graphs you can see structural models, plumbing fixtures and modeling workset when we are already working in collaboration.

-I understand your excitement with Revit. But you told me that you also teach them other alternatives.

Of course, as we have discussed, BIM is more than Revit, even from the perspective of Bentley Systems, the I-model scheme has an adoption of BIM that includes project management, interesting asset management. But I use Revit because of the popularity that AutoCAD has in this context, seeking more than Revit, to teach them BIM principles. We also see presentations of Presto (BIM 5D applied to budgets), Bentley Synchro (BIM 4D applied to Planning), Dynamo (advanced modeling with programming and Revit), among others, to leave them the thorn to continue studying other programs to improve as professionals.

- Tell me how your agenda is in the following days.

Now we will have the opportunity to start a Navisworks course and I am excited to move forward with BIM 4D (Planning), even with a small group. There is a lot to teach in BIM, and people do not know all this. As much as there is information on the Internet, there is not always a research culture, they are limited to what they know. That is a big mistake that sooner or later passes the bill, because the one that is not updated dies.

- And what is your perception of the optics of the students at the end of the course?

I can affirm that my students, once they receive the course, give a radical change, their imagination is open to all the possibilities that they can achieve in this BIM world and the digital revolution. It's as if they know the good and can not go back. AutoCAD is not enough now.

-I agree with you. Searches for AutoCAD courses dominate Google. How do you see the challenges these students face after the course?

The issue is that we can train the staff, make them think differently, but the companies have to have the software so that they can continue gaining experience. I met an architect who could model in 3 dimensions, but he had to work in AutoCAD because it was the only thing that was in his company. It is frustrating.

So the change of mentality towards BIM is not only from the designers, but it has to reach the heads, the managers, owners, clients, project managers and builders. That's why we talk about a life cycle of the project, not only at the design level. It must be an integral change that impacts the entire company, because only then can we see a substantial change in how we develop our projects with BIM. In short, the methodological change implies commitment and dedication.


The conversation left me thoughtful. Very thoughtful, especially when we talk about the challenges that these contexts have for public policy to regulate BIM for projects in tender. So, under an optimistic approach, we planned a coffee in the December weather way back for Christmas.


In the casual interview, Gabriela Rodríguez, Civil Engineer, Master in Bim Management from the Rey Juan Carlos University of Spain. With questions led by the editor of Geofumadas.com.

One Reply to "The experience of learning and teaching BIM in contexts accustomed to CAD"

  1. Excellent contribution in the implementation for the design.

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