With BIM (Building Information Modelling) playing a growing part in the construction process, Melanie Robinson is currently seeking industry professionals to take part in a survey on this information management system as part of her PhD at Edinburgh Napier University.
The survey is taking place until around 14 September 2018 (please click here to take part) and here Melanie tells us about that and her own thoughts and experience on the construction industry.
Please tell us a little about yourself and the course you’re doing.
I’m a third-year PhD candidate. I graduated with an honours degree in Architectural Technology in 2015 and jumped straight into the world of academic research. I got interested in all things BIM through my degree, although at the time it wasn’t explicitly taught, and as a relatively recent innovation, it turned out there was a good opportunity to learn more and contribute to the development of BIM through a doctorate.
What’s your BIM research and the questionnaire about, and who are you looking at to take part?
The research is looking into how individual practitioners in industry have adopted the various building blocks of BIM and the impact that cumulative levels of understanding is having on the wider diffusion of the process at a national level.
I’m looking for anyone in the industry! I’m interested in hearing from you, whether you consider yourself to have adopted BIM or not, as long as you are involved in construction work based in the UK.
Is BIM something becoming essential for someone looking to succeed in construction?
Most definitely! More and more, we’re seeing graduate jobs requiring the candidate to be sufficiently trained in BIM software. However, I think we need to start focusing on the broader picture of digital construction and how we use data across the entire building lifecycle rather than on an individual’s ability to use a tool. After all, efficient information management is at the heart of BIM.
Housebuilding and construction aren’t renowned for diversity – can you tell if have you attracted a wide range of respondents so far?
I haven’t done any in-depth analysis on the data collected so far, but preliminary results are showing most respondents are coming from design backgrounds, with quite a few in BIM-specific roles. I’m not currently looking into diversity beyond job role, but it would certainly be a consideration for further research at a later date.
Can more be done to promote construction in general as a career choice?
Yes. At school level, we need those that help pupils make their career choices to be fully aware of the wide range of roles that make up the construction industry. We need to remove the preconceptions that you are either an architect or a builder!
I think we need to focus our efforts at the earlier stages of the career industry; get into schools and show pupils what we can do and how construction is changing to become more digital. Construction has always had a “dirty” image, but reality is that it is a very multi-faceted industry with what I believe to be roles for anyone. Construction should also form a larger focus in Women in STEM initiatives.
Where does your interest in construction come from, and what’s your experience in the industry?
I really enjoyed graphic communication as a subject at school, which is where I was first introduced to CAD software. It seemed like the natural progression to go into an architecture-related course at university, although I didn’t think I was imaginative enough to do an actual Architecture degree! The main benefit of doing Architectural Technology was that we covered a wide range of topics from construction law, to elements of structural and building services engineering, to being able to design our own buildings from scratch. By the time we graduated, we had a pretty good idea of the construction process which is what inspired me to want to take a more bird’s eye view of the industry for my research.
Whilst I’ve had short-term jobs as a CAD technician for architecture and civil engineering offices, most of my “real-world” experience has been interacting with BIM policymakers and conducting industry research as part of Scotland’s digital construction journey.
What ambitions do you have for the future?
Every PhD candidate wants to change the world! I’d like my research to be used to inform how we approach the introduction of digital innovations into the construction industry. However, in the short term, my main ambition is to interact with students and provide that all-important stepping stone into BIM.