Brigham Young University: BIM Curriculum

“We can’t graduate enough students who know Revit Architecture—the demand is that high in the building industry.”
—Kevin Miller Assistant Professor Brigham Young University

Revit® Architecture software helps students in the Construction Management program at Brigham Young University graduate ready to perform—and in high demand by prospective employers.

Cutting-Edge Instruction

The Construction Management program at Brigham Young University (BYU) provides students with a broad background in construction technology, business, architecture, and engineering, with emphasis on the management of construction projects. Graduates occupy a wide range of management positions, including project manager, superintendent, estimator, field engineer, inspector, and general contractor. Many also go on to advanced studies in architecture, law, or business administration. All of them graduate with the expertise to help build high-quality projects, safely, on time, and within budget.

State-of-the-Art Software

To make sure students are familiar with the best possible building design software, BYU professors chose Revit Architecture, a building information modeling (BIM) system. “Revit Architecture plays a key role in our curriculum,” says Kevin Burr, Associate Professor. “Revit Architecture is the industry-leading BIM software, and our students need to know it to understand where the industry is today and where it will be tomorrow.”

The Challenge

With several teaching assistants (TAs), Burr teaches architectural process and design to three sections of freshmen and sophomores. “We use very realistic scenarios, right down to owner profiles. The basic criteria are the same for everyone. For example, we’ll ask them to design a 12-story building for a law firm with a set structural grid. After that, they can basically do what they want.”

Hands-on Training

“Most of the course work is on the architectural process,” says Cameron Sessions, a senior in the program and a TA. “But the class also has a lab associated with it. Students spend several hours a week working hands-on with Revit Architecture.” According to Burr, learning the software doesn’t take long. Because Revit Architecture is so easy to use, students are up and running after only two to three weeks of instruction.

The Solution

“Early in the semester, we use Revit Architecture to cover the entire building process and then move on to presentation,” says Burr. After that, the students seamlessly import the Revit Architecture files into AutoCAD® software and learn that software as well.

Powerful Design Tool

“I encourage the students to describe everything in Revit Architecture and also explore the interoperability between Revit Architecture and AutoCAD for some documentation,” says Sessions. “They could print the documents directly from Revit Architecture, but we’re trying to make sure that they learn to use AutoCAD as well.”

Compelling Presentations

“Each semester, the documents, designs, and presentations get better and better,” says Kevin Miller, Assistant Professor. “In just a few weeks, students are able to create many different exterior concepts, using a variety of materials, as well as interior walk-throughs and flybys. They really do some great stuff.”

High Demand for Graduates

“We can’t graduate enough students who know Revit Architecture—the demand is that high in the building industry,” says Miller. Sessions’ experience at a recent design competition is a case in point. In Orlando as part of a competition team, he had several prospective employers approach him after seeing the team’s Revit Architecture flyby. “They were really interested in finding somebody who could do that for their company,” says Sessions. Adam Alder, a Masters student at BYU, tells a similar story: with only two months’ exposure to the software, Alder leveraged his skills to land a job with Layton Construction, the largest construction firm in Utah.

Step-by-Step Guidance

“At Layton, we use Revit Architecture primarily for new business development,” says Alder. “Most owners don’t understand 2D drawings. We create a model for them that demonstrates the entire structural building process in phases. It shows clients that we’ve taken the extra step to understand their project. We’ve gotten quite a bit of good feedback.”

Clear Expectations

“Then, during construction, we can use AVIs generated from the Revit Architecture model to let the trade contractor know visually exactly what we expect at every interval,” continues Alder. “For example, on one job, we were able to generate a week-by-week printout for the steel contractor. We showed him—using phases—all the quantities, where the steel needed to be, and how it would be constructed.”

The Result

Students at BYU study AutoCAD software because of its industry prominence for drafting automation. “But once they learn Revit Architecture, they stick with it even though they have the choice of going back to AutoCAD for class,” says Burr. The new software has generated a tremendous amount of excitement among students and teachers alike. Student club meetings held after class are packed with students eager to learn more about using Revit Architecture software.

A Bright Future

“We keep getting inquiries for people who know Revit Architecture,” says Burr. By adopting the software, BYU is ensuring that their program will continue to graduate students with the expertise needed to effectively manage the cost, schedule, scope, and risks associated with design and construction. “We’re very optimistic about Revit Architecture.”

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