Woman Civil Engineer - What is BIM?
BIM,  Civil Engineering,  Engineering,  Stemspo

Civil Engineering: What is BIM in 2020?

When constructing major and complex buildings or roads, there is a specific iterative working process. The Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry is gearing more and more into innovation and digitalization. What is BIM?

Before I explain what BIM is let me share an example of the design process within the AEC industry.

The iterative working process (example):

  • Client tells the Project Manager (PM) that they want a specific building made.
  • PM notifies the architects or design team how the client wants the building.
  • The design team will get back to the PM on how this can be done.
  • The PM then gets back to the client with feedback.
  • The client then tells the PM they can want it some other way and the whole process circles back around.

The issue with the construction business is that some projects have tight deadlines and budget. So making a mistake with tight deadlines and budgets are a no no.

Constant changes with design

Working in complex projects, specially with large building or infrastructure project, you usually work with a lot of team members (designers, project managers, client, entrepreneur etc.). Working with so many project members will almost guarantee you having to do changes. Oh, the constant changes!

Changes from the client.

Changes from the law and rules.

Changes from the design team.

You get the point! There can be changes throughout the designing process of the building. Enter BIM!

AEC: What is BIM 2020

Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

What is BIM?

BIM started off as an acronym for the work method Building Information Modeling.

However, the work method got so complex that one needed a BIM Coordinator to coordinate all the models together. With time the work method got so complex and the acronym eventually formed into Building Information Management.

If you work within the Civil Engineering or within the AEC industry then you might have heard of this acronym.

The irony is that I work as a BIM Manager within the AEC Industry and a lot of engineers within the industry, sadly, does not even know what a BIM Manager is. So if you’ve never heard of this term, don’t worry, as some people within the industry aren’t fully familiar with it either!

The acronym can also come with different meaning depending on your industry focus, so it means whatever it needs to within that niche.

Before computers could handle the 3d models the AEC industry would (and still today) use CAD – Computer Aided Design. Blueprints made in the computer are printed out into 2D drawings.

Today you can have a 3D model and get a lot of data out of it. As well as apply material on the models, you can get a 3D model of how it will be shown in real life. The model can contain sunset, sunrise, shadows.  You can add people to make it come to life! That’s the power of BIM. Showing you how it will be visually before even building.

BIM – a work method

Today BIM is a process or a working method which is based on a 3D model with intelligent data. The model can contain physical data. Let’s say a wall of a building. You have the volume, the length, width and height of the wall. If it’s a concrete wall, contractors usually have a cost per cubic meter (I’m Swede, so we use the metric system :P). With the data from the model you will also be able to know how much the building will cost to build. The model can also contain time schedule of the building. All these data are great for making a proper planning of the construction of the building.

The definition of BIM can vary between disciplines, projects and companies. This is the short and my version of answering what BIM is, based on my experience as a BIM Coordinator and BIM Manager. In an upcoming blog post I will answer what What does a BIM Coordinator or a BIM Manager do?

The purpose with this blog was, at least in the beginning, to write down my personal thoughts related to development and as a female in STEM. So this is my first article within the E in STEM, Engineering. The next blog post will explain what a BIM Coordinator/Manager does. So stay tuned! 🙂

Featured image:
Photo by Ascel Kadhem on Unsplash

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