BIM changes the construction industry
Disruptive technologies are redefining the construction industry, specialist tutors at Ara Institute of Canterbury say,
and both industry and education institutes must catch up fast.
Mazharuddin Syed Ahmed teaches Building Information Modelling (BIM) Project to the students of the new Bachelor of
Construction, which has just started yesterday [26 February]. With 18 years of teaching experience in Saudi Arabi and
the UK, and a PhD in Disruptive Technology in Engineering Education, he has seen BIM cause an industry overhaul and has
adapted his own teaching to prepare graduates for the new era.
“It’s similar to how CAD [Computer Aided Design] came into the industry 15 years ago and changed construction
documentation, however BIM aims to change every aspect of construction management. That’s why we call it ‘360 degree,
spherical disruption’. It changes the whole process and everyone has to be on board with it from day one of the
project,” he says.
To stay in front of this industry shift Ara worked with industry to understand local needs and has hired specialist
tutors who can see the big picture of BIM to deliver the programme.
BIM is embedded into every course of the Bachelor of Construction as well as the new New Zealand Diploma in Constriction
(specialising in Construction Management or Quantity Surveying) and some existing Architectural Studies qualifications.
All of these programmes are taught in the new Kahukura, which is itself a teaching tool, further enhanced by Ahmed’s
digital approach. QR codes around the building guide students to a virtual world on Moodle where they can explore every
aspect of the materials, structure, services, energy use and sustainability elements of the building they are in.
“There is definitely a gap in New Zealand. You have people specialised in specific areas of BIM, but the industry is
crying out for people who understand the whole system,” Ahmed says.
Too often, educators and industry attempt to use BIM without sufficient expertise. Ahmed will present at the BIMsiNZ Meeting No 14 - Project Establishment
tonight [Tuesday 27 February] in the Kahukura on this topic. “The integrated and evolving nature of BIM demands that it
has to be designed as a completely interactive and engaging experience utilizing cutting-edge educational tools and
technologies that can continuously adapt to industry changes and technological developments,” he says.
Like Ahmed, Kam Cheng has taught at Ara for one year and comes from a rich international background. Cheng has worked on
large-scale projects in Dubai, Singapore and around South East Asia. Cheng is also excited about the possibilities of
upskilling the industry in Christchurch.
“As well as offering the Bachelor of Construction and the Graduate Diplomas, we are in a good position to offer
professional development block courses to industry and really lead the field in practical BIM education,” he says. “We
have already been approached by six industry partners who want to take on students for work experience and others who
want to hire new graduates.”