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Collaborative working and BIM under the spotlight

A new research project about to commence at Loughborough University will put collaborative working in the construction industry under the spotlight and test the Building Information Modelling (BIM) mode of working.

With BIM set to be compulsory for UK publicly funded construction projects from 2016 and virtual collaborative working becoming an ever more important employability skill in the sector, the project is set to have far-reaching impact on construction education and industry practice.

Traditional building design is largely reliant upon two-dimensional drawings whereas BIM is a 3D representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility or building.  By utilising BIM technology the aim is to enhance collaborative working and increase efficiency across the life cycle of a given construction activity. 

The research, being co-ordinated by the School of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough, has been established with funding from the Higher Education Academy.  It will see final year students use BIM to develop a building scheme in the initial stages of design.  It will be an international collaboration with students from Loughborough joining forces with students from Coventry University and Ryerson University, Canada to form multidisciplinary design teams. The project will set up and support virtual collaborative design which requires co-creation of knowledge at a distance within a real-time BIM platform. 

There will be a project website which will provide a route for their collaboration.  It will, in addition, provide the forum where they will be able to evaluate lessons learnt, share case studies and guidance documents for the benefit of other students, academics and industry professionals. A key aspect of the evaluation will be to assess the employability skills acquired by the students and their learning experience.

The project leader, Dr Robby Soetanto from the School of Civil and Building Engineering comments:  “As well as equipping our students with the practical skills they need, it is becoming ever more important for Universities to enhance students’ wider employability skills.  This project will do just that.  It will give experience of collaborative working on an international scale and of BIM working.  Disseminating what we learn from this research is important and we very much hope that it will be of considerable interest to fellow educators and the construction industry alike.”