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Integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) into the Civil Engineering Curriculum

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Star Tech: Bringing Data Science and Technologies into the Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Edwin R. Schmeckpeper P.E. Norwich University

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Edwin Schmeckpeper, P.E., Ph.D., is the chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Management at Norwich University, the first private school in the United States to offer engineering courses. Norwich University was the model used by Senator Justin Morrill for the land-grant colleges created by the 1862 Morrill Land Grant Act. Prior to joining the faculty at Norwich University, Dr. Schmeckpeper taught at a land-grant college, the University of Idaho, and worked as an engineer in design offices and at construction sites.

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This paper presents information on how Building Information Modeling (BIM) is being integrated throughout the structural analysis and design portion of the Civil Engineering curriculum. BIM is a model-based process that is used to plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain buildings and other infrastructure. It has a wide range of beneficial effects on construction project disciplines such as facilitating communication, improving the flow of information, delivering a constructible design, enhancing cost estimation and cost control, meeting schedule deadlines successfully, mitigating conflicts and disputes, increasing productivity and reducing safety incidents. Surveys of the engineering industry indicate within a five-year time-period market forces will relegate those Structural Engineering firms that do not use BIM to the low-rise residential market(1). All commercial, industrial, governmental, or multi-story residential projects will be done by firms that are proficient in BIM. If universities are to remain relevant in the education of Civil Engineers who are able to work in the Structural Engineering field, it is imperative that BIM be incorporated into the structural analysis and design courses.

Instead of adding a stand-alone BIM course, the department focused on redesigning the existing structures courses to use BIM as one of the tools for presenting materials and student assignments. Integrating BIM into existing courses, rather than independently, has been shown to be the most practical way to offer BIM, since this strategy divides the BIM contents into smaller, more manageable components, which can improve the quality of education(2). For example, one of the BIM modules in the Structural Analysis course is used for the determination of snow loads on buildings. This BIM model is then used for design assignments in both Design of Steel Structures and Reinforced Concrete Design. The use BIM modules distributed throughout curriculum exposes students to material that is realistic, but not of overwhelming scope. The students are given assignments that are manageable, and that increase in scope and complexity over the course of a student’s academic career.

The research in this project focuses on the impacts of incorporating BIM into the Structural Engineering courses of the Civil Engineering curriculum, and assessing whether the potential benefits have been achieved. The primary research approach is based upon the assessments for the Civil Engineering Student Outcomes that are measured each school year as part of the accreditation process for the BS in Civil Engineering.

1) Dodge Data and Analytics, "The Business Value of BIM for Infrastructure 2017," Dodge Data and Analytics, Bedford, MA, 2017. 2) N. Lee, C. Dossick, "Leveraging Building Information Modeling Technology in Construction," 2012 ASEE Annual Conf. and Expo

Schmeckpeper, E. R. (2020, June), Integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) into the Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34839

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