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Integrating BIM as a teaching tool in existing construction management curricula: a case study




Rush, Jonathan M. Mike, author
Elliott, Jonathan, advisor
Glick, Scott, committee member
McLean, David, committee member

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Building design and construction delivery methods are becoming more complex while construction durations are simultaneously being reduced. Today the construction industry is leveraging technologies including Building Information Modeling (BIM) to improve project delivery. BIM applications are used in the construction industry as the platform on which design build and integrated project delivery (IPD) is practiced to complete construction task such as: lift and shop drawings, cost estimating and cost management, generation and analysis of project schedules, logistics analysis, and project marketing. BIM technologies are also used to facilitate more clear communication between all members of a building project development team. Literature review and professional experience reveals that the construction industry needs graduates with some aptitude for BIM. Further, an experiential understanding of BIM applications is imperative for construction management graduates to navigate the growing complexities of project delivery to meet industry demand. This study investigated the integration of BIM within an existing graduate-level construction management course at Colorado State University (CSU). An exploratory sequential case study approach was implemented to conduct a cross-sectional study of quantitative and qualitative data. The investigation is grounded in the researcher's ongoing professional work in facilities management at CSU, and a review of literature to establish the need for BIM exposure, experience and aptitude in the construction industry. This study initially explored BIM integration and teaching methodologies in the architecture and engineering disciplines. The researcher applied the expanding use of BIM in architectural engineering education to inform technology integration within construction management curricula. A survey was distributed to gather data on the student experience with BIM as well as their pre- and post-class perceptions of the learning opportunities and outcomes of BIM integration in a graduate construction management course. After compiling the data from quantitative Likert scale items, the researcher conducted paired samples t-tests: comparing the same people on one variable, at the pre-test and post-test intervention for students taking the CON 571 class. The objective of running the paired t-tests was to determine if student perceptions of their experience with BIM and associated development planning assignments were significantly different before and after taking CON 571. A significant difference in the mean at pre-test and post-test was observed and results suggest that the students were learning the technology and the course materials at the same time. The study leveraged the researcher's work as University Architect and Manager of Capital Design and Construction at Colorado State University coupled with a parallel appointment to teach the Facility Planning and Management (CON 571) course. The researcher has taught CON 571, each fall, for eleven years, and this case study focuses on three semesters where BIM was fully integrated into the existing curricula. The course used actual projects in various stages of development on Colorado State University's campus and sequentially taught the project development process. The content and teaching used BIM to align assignments directly with the development process, starting with master planning, building, programming, project marketing, conceptual building design, building code analysis, cost estimating, scheduling with logistics planning and concluded with construction documentation. Through the integration of three-dimensional technologies, the building information models evolve through the duration of the course and result in a detailed facility that was originally identified on the student's conceptual master plan. An exploratory case study approach was implemented to conduct a cross-sectional study of quantitative and qualitative data through literature review research, professional experience and interactions, surveys and analysis. The investigation is grounded in the researcher's ongoing professional work, and a review of literature to establish the need for BIM exposure, experience and aptitude in the construction industry. The study provides evidence that BIM can be successfully integrated into existing construction management curricula to promote the critical thinking, planning and problem solving required of successful construction management graduates and practitioners. BIM was successfully used as a tool to teach the existing curriculum in CON 571 which focuses on the project development process at Colorado State University. The results revealed that the students learned the existing course material, emerging delivery methods, and the BIM technologies simultaneously. This study suggests that BIM can be integrated into existing curriculum and that separate classes focusing on the technology itself may not be needed. The study also illustrates teaching methodologies developed in the subject course that can be utilized in other courses to support the integration of BIM across existing AEC curricula. Identified in the literature review and supported by the researchers work experience, this research builds on current educational and professional practices using BIM technologies in design, construction and development. The results are helpful for professionals involved with both the teaching and practice of integrated project delivery, specifically, design-build. That said, continuing efforts to integrate BIM into Construction Management education is needed. Further research should focus on teaching methodologies, more mobile and site-based technologies, and the adaptation of this parametric, data driven tool to encourage discovery and innovation in both project documentation and delivery. BIM is rapidly changing the way buildings are procured, constructed and delivered. Preparing construction management students to leverage BIM applications, while still obtaining a solid foundational CM knowledge base, is paramount for preparing students to enter a quickly advancing Architectural Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry.


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construction management
building information modeling
design build


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