Building Information Modelling: How Romanian Universities Prepare Future Engineers in the Construction Field Through BIM Methodology8 min. de citit

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of construction and real estate operations that merges technology, process improvements, and digital information to enable a radical enhancement of project results, customer benefits, and real estate exploitation.

The use of BIM has increased in the global architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. The increasing adoption of BIM at a European level has played a crucial role in some of the major changes that have taken place in the construction sector. The fact that all stakeholders have recognized the importance of BIM processes and the benefits they deliver, both in design & build project implementation and throughout the lifecycle of the construction, has led higher education institutions to restructure the AEC disciplines in their educational programs.

In 2010, Professor Dr. Nawari. O. NAWARI claimed that “students need to know how each discipline is related to the other and how one discipline impacts the other”, and Hardy (cited in Deutsch, page 202, 2011) suggested that looking at the logic of construction methods and means that BIM inherently teaches, he saw the potential to educate. However, to make the connection between industry disciplinary structures and how specialties overlap, we must start by modernizing and adapting the interdisciplinary teaching of subjects in the academic environment. BIM courses offer an excellent opportunity to more effectively engage students in the learning process and help them understand the way and role in which buildings are constructed.

Following, addresses the BIM issue from an educational perspective and how the academic environment prepares future engineers.

In Romania, faculties have found the way to introduce BIM courses among students through ongoing courses:

Starting from 2016, Graitec Romania, in collaboration with the Faculty of Civil, Industrial and Agricultural Construction of the Technical University of Construction Bucharest, has organized optional courses introducing BIM, titled “BIM UNIVERSITY”. In the following years, students from the University of Installation Engineering and students from the “Ion Mincu” Architecture and Urbanism Institute also enrolled. Thus, students from different branches of construction design could learn about what collaborative work using BIM technology entails.

In 2018, the Faculty of Construction and Installations in Iasi initiated the first international BIM summer school. The main objective of the BIM summer school was to prepare students for “real life” projects and challenges, as BIM software requests had increased worldwide.

In 2020, Graitec Romania introduced and supported the online course “Introduction to the BIM Design Concept. BIM Examples and Workflows!” for students at the Polytechnic University of Timișoara, aiming to promote the BIM design concept in the academic environment.

Lecturer Dr. Eng. Andrei CRIȘAN coordinated this project and continues to support initiatives involving the private sector in relation to construction faculties. He believes that the academic environment must become more connected to the construction industry, and the exchange between the two should not be limited to hiring students or technical expertise but should interact all the time, preparing students for their integration into the workforce after graduation.

“We can learn a lot from the West about this collaboration and especially about BIM. Both good and bad. I am pleased, however, to see more and more national initiatives, where colleagues from academia have tightened links with the private sector and create more opportunities for students. Secondly, I think that students have a great power to contribute to the development of the program and through this, I want to encourage students to actively involve in developing courses they consider useful. I would like to see the transition from ‘what is this useful to me’ to ‘I think this would be very useful to me and my colleagues’. It is an important step, which will only lead to their personal development and will help them integrate better into the professional environment,” Dr. Crișan adds.

In 2020, the Faculty of Engineering in Foreign Languages (FILS) at the Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest (UTCB) introduced the first compulsory course dedicated to BIM in Romania to its first-cycle curriculum. This course presents the theoretical aspects of BIM and, through a close connection with the industry, provides applied examples of BIM use. Moreover, students at the Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest can take elective courses to use the software products that are part of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) suite.

In 2022, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eng. Andrei CRIȘAN of the Department of Steel Structures and Structural Mechanics, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Politehnica University of Timisoara, initiated his own elective course “Introduction to BIM”, which is mainly addressed to fourth-year students of Civil, Industrial and Agricultural Constructions (CCIA), Civil Engineering in English and German, but also to those from the Faculty of Architecture, and offers enrollment opportunities to all students and faculty within UPT. The course covers topics such as BIM standards and their adoption worldwide, roles within projects, levels of detail and BIM dimensions, BIM for architects, engineers, owners, authorities, and manufacturers.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eng. Andrei CRIȘAN appreciates the role of private construction companies as being very important in supporting the academic environment’s efforts to promote digitalization and technologization in the field of construction.

“I believe we need representatives of companies to help us develop an updated program that meets the real needs of the market and prepares students for what’s next. Construction has become a dynamic field where digitalization has changed the rules: from integrated design, where every discipline is connected, to execution, where some use AR/VR and drones. I would also like to see companies willing to use the academic research platforms to solve real problems and innovate. We have the capacity, we have the knowledge, we have the resources… do we also have the courage to do it?” he conveyed.

Leviatan Design and Ubitech Constructiii supported the educational development of future construction engineers in Romania, by supporting several educational sessions on BIM, within the courses organized by UPT, UTCB, and beyond.

The representatives of the two companies say that by supporting these sessions, they have helped students understand the practical application and usefulness of using cutting-edge platforms and programs like Revit, BIM360, NextBIM, and VisualLive, for an integrated approach to the construction process throughout the investment implementation cycle.

Leviatan Design and Ubitech Constructii have internally developed specific working procedures and processes according to the BIM standard, and their application in daily work has allowed representatives of the two companies to easily exemplify the practical implementation of theoretical principles through a modern presentation, which includes both the theoretical and applied parts.

In 2022, within UTCB – FILS, Professor Daniel BÎTCĂ taught the BIM Course, where students learned concrete notions about BIM methodology, and how BIM concepts are applied in design and execution. He mentions that the school curriculum and the content of the disciplines studied within the study programs of the Faculty of Civil, Industrial and Agricultural Constructions are constantly changing with the aim of keeping pace with the development of technologies in the construction field.

“Partners in the construction industry support our faculty’s actions, ensuring both students’ access to the construction environment through internships, field trips, workshops with students, as well as through the continuous feedback we receive from the industry. Leviatan Design and Ubitech Constructii are companies directly involved in the study process, who are part of our partners that use BIM technologies and share their knowledge with our faculty’s students.” states Professor Daniel BÎTCĂ.

In addition to this course, representatives from Leviatan Design, Maria Văsi – Head of Structures Department, and Anca Baciu – Architect, held, in March this year, a video session for the fourth-year students of UTCB – FILS, who attended a theoretical presentation about the implementation of BIM concepts in design and execution, followed by a practical visit to one of the company’s construction sites. Students were explained the coordination and verification process in execution, using mixed reality through HoloLens 2 glasses and the Remote Assist & Next BIM software. The students tested the mixed reality equipment and understood the solutions adopted for the execution of the Multifunctional Pavilion project within the Cantacuzino Institute, and their feedback confirms the importance of these programs.

“I can say that this unique experience has accentuated our thirst for knowledge, fulfilled our desire to come into contact with the labor market, as well as with the new technologies used, both in execution and in design.” – transmits Dragoș, a fourth-year FILS – UTCB student, following his participation in the session organized by Leviatan.

Leviatan Design and Ubitech Constructii have previously supported, and have recently resumed, presentations about BIM processes applied in design and execution activities at the Military Technical Academy, Faculty of Constructions and Installations from Iasi, and Faculty of Architecture from Iasi. They have demonstrated the work methods approached by the company on existing construction sites, as well as on completed ones, where, with the help of the latest software for calculation, design, and 3D modeling, significant advantages have been obtained for the beneficiaries of the works.

Leviatan Design and Ubitech Constructii will continue to support the related faculties and get involved in the training of future engineers.

“We are committed to supporting educational programs, in partnership with the related universities, and to provide students with our know-how and experience. Leviatan Design and Ubitech Constructii aim to arouse students’ interest in the new era of engineering, intertwined with technology, digitalization, and automation of the design process and execution tracking.

We believe that the learning process implies a constant combination between theoretical and practical notions, and the technologization and digitalization of the construction process are strategic elements for raising the quality and performance level in this field, which is why we will continue to be active among students and present and promote the advantages of BIM processes and digitized working methods that we successfully apply in our design&build projects.” – say the representatives of the two companies.