UWE Bristol’s BIM initiative

From design to demolition: UWE Bristol launches new MSc to help meet stricter construction protocol

Stricter government requirements on managing the building lifecycle for publicly funded projects are being met by the launch at UWE Bristol of a new MSc Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Design Construction and Operations.

BIM is emerging as the industry standard approach to the modelling and management of a building’s lifecycle, from design and construction to maintenance and demolition, and is taking over from computer-aided design (CAD).

The UK government’s construction strategy has pushed forward the programme for adopting it – from 2016, all publicly funded projects will have to meet the BIM protocol. Public sector contracts are worth almost £37bn per year, making up a considerable proportion, 38%, of all UK construction output.

In future, bidders on public building projects will be required to use BIM, and this trend is already affecting privately procured building projects. The adoption of BIM is expected to enable greater productivity, and to deliver projects on time and within budget. Importantly, it will help the industry to meet its obligations for a low-carbon future.

However, lack of education, skills and trained professionals are among the major obstacles to the adoption of BIM in the industry. UWE’s postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and master’s degree courses in BIM in Design, Construction and Operations aim to respond to this challenge. 

UWE Bristol programme leader Professor Lamine Mahdjoubi said: “Since BIM was introduced in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, it has gone from being a buzzword with a handful of early adopters to a worldwide focus of the construction industry.

“Many of the world’s leading architecture, engineering, and construction firms are on the way to adopting BIM. However, the majority of the construction industry is in the hands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who are not ready for such a sudden change. According to a recent report of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), construction SMEs are failing to win 9 out of 10 public sector contracts.

“What sets this programme apart is the context of inter-professional and multi-disciplinary approach and expertise that exists in UWE’s Faculty of Environment and Technology.

“Unlike existing postgraduate programmes in BIM, which tend to focus on specific aspects of building information management, such as design or sustainability, this new programme is more holistic in its approach and deals with the whole built environment lifecycle, including design, construction, operation, maintenance, and sustainability.  

“This unique programme emphasises innovative sustainable and collaborative practices in building information modelling and management. It will be distinctive in offering more opportunities for our students and our graduates through working closely with our key partners such as Stride Treglown Plc who are currently leading the South West BIM hub, and BAM Construction Ltd.”

Keith Wildin of BAM said: “BIM touches every part of our industry and it integrates with all disciplines at BAM, from Construction, Design and Facility Management. UWE Bristol is unique among education establishments, having recognised that the BIM ‘process’ is more important than the ‘technology’.

“This approach to teaching BIM will prepare students for working in a co-operative environment that has the potential to transform the UK construction industry by questioning current practices and developing technological knowhow facilitating the BIM process. Few companies are able to offer experience of the BIM environment but at BAM we recognise the importance of providing opportunities of work placement’s to improve the students overall understanding of the BIM process.”

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