The purpose of this paper is to present a pedagogical practice in the project-based assessment of architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) students’ interdisciplinary building design work adopting BIM. This pedagogical practice emphasizes the impacts of BIM, as the digital collaboration platform, on the cross-disciplinary teamwork design through information sharing. This study also focuses on collecting students’ perceptions of building information modeling (BIM) effects in integrated project design. Challenges in BIM adoption from AEC students’ perspective were identified and discussed, and could spark further research needs.
Based on a thorough review of previous pedagogical practices of applying BIM in multiple AEC disciplines, this study adopted a case study of the Solar Decathlon (SD) residential building design as the group project for AEC students to deliver the design work and construction planning. In total 13 different teams within the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, each group consisting of final year undergraduate students with backgrounds in architecture, civil engineering, and architectural environmental engineering, worked to deliver the detailed design of the solar-powered residential house meeting pre-specified project objectives in terms of architectural esthetics, structural integrity, energy efficiency, prefabrication construction techniques and other issues such as budget and scheduling. Each team presented the cross-disciplinary design plan with cost estimate and construction scheduling together within group reports. This pedagogical study collected students’ reflective thinking on how BIM affected their design work, and compared their feedback on BIM to that from AEC industry professionals in previous studies.
The case study of the SD building project showed the capacity of BIM in enabling interdisciplinary collaboration through information exchange and in enhancing communication across different AEC fields. More sustainable design options were considered in the early architectural design stages through the cross-disciplinary cooperation between architecture and building services engineering. BIM motivated AEC student teams to have a more comprehensive design and construction plan by considering multiple criteria including energy efficiency, budget, and construction activities. Students’ reflections indicated both positive effects of BIM (e.g. facilitating information sharing) as well as challenges for further BIM implementation, for example, such as some architecture students’ resistance to BIM, and the lack of existing family types in the BIM library, etc.
Some limitations of the current BIM pedagogy were identified through the student group work. For example, students revealed the problem of interoperability between BIM (i.e. Autodesk Revit) and building energy simulation tools. To further integrate the university education and AEC industry practice, future BIM pedagogical work could recruit professionals and project stakeholders in the adopted case studies, for the purpose of providing professional advice on improving the constructability of the BIM-based design from student work.
To further integrate the university education and AEC industry practice, future BIM pedagogical work could recruit professionals and project stakeholders in the adopted case study, for the purpose of providing professional advice in improving the constructability of the BIM-based design from student work.
This work provides insights into the information technology applied in the AEC interdisciplinary pedagogy. Students gained the experience of a project-based collaboration and were equipped with BIM capabilities for future employment within the AEC job market. The integrated design approach was embedded throughout the team project process. Overall, this BIM pedagogical practice emphasized the link between academic activities and real-world industrial practice. The pedagogical experience gained in this BIM course could be expanded to future BIM education and research in other themes such as interoperability of building information exchange among different digital tools.