Future Learning: The Virtual Project

by John Millar | July 26, 2023 |  5 min read

Future Learning: The Virtual Project
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In information management and digital upskilling, an educational revolution is underway.

BIM Academy’s Virtual Project is redefining building information modelling (BIM) education, by providing our training delegates with a unique blend of theory and practical skills in a dynamic and immersive learning experience.

Led by a BIM Academy Learning and Development trio, Andrew Johnson, John Millar and Murillo Piazzi – our Virtual Project focuses on both the theory and the practice of information management, equipping delegates with the knowledge and skills required to operate effectively on projects adopting BIM in accordance with the international standard, ISO 19650.

It is a transformative experience which has left an indelible mark on many participants from diverse backgrounds, and since its inception, we have helped to bridge the digital skills gap by placing each delegate at the heart of a realistic, BIM-based project scenario.

This creates many natural opportunities for learning and practical demonstration as the project progresses, with a dynamic and balanced approach towards theory and practice guiding our delegates through the project delivery experience and empowering them to both learn and proactively apply their new knowledge as they progress.

An immersive learning experience

The BIM Academy Virtual Project is a self contained project experience delivered over three to five days. The journey begins with an exciting introductory briefing, where the team are introduced to the project, design brief and site, followed immediately by a visit to site to gather real time information.

They then proceed to prepare a site report and devise a conceptual design solution, setting the stage for hands on, collaborative BIM activities in the days ahead.

Delegates go on to produce and manage a wide range of BIM deliverables for their design solutions, including models, schedules and visualisations.

They follow standard BIM processes throughout, incorporating critical practices such as common data environment (CDE) utilisation, model federation and clash detection, with some consideration also given to more advanced use cases such as the integration of time and cost data and energy performance analysis.

The project culminates in a final presentation, where delegates showcase their work, reflecting on their journey and propose their innovative digital strategies for the operational phase of the facility’s lifecycle.

The training in this Virtual Project demonstrates the transformative power of blended method education in the digital era. The training combines theory and practice seamlessly, empowering delegates to thrive in the ever evolving world of digital information management.

We firmly believe that education should be accessible and flexible in how it is delivered and as such, our Virtual Project is open to a diverse and multi disciplinary audience, including college or university students as well as experienced professionals seeking to develop their knowledge and upskill.

It has been successfully delivered for industry, academia and private organisations, transcending geographical barriers with remote, in-person or hybrid approaches to delivery.

Success stories from Manchester and Newcastle

Building upon several successful deliveries in recent years, two such Virtual Projects were successfully completed this year.

The first was held in Manchester delivered for both the Manchester and Gateshead cohorts of the PlanBEE higher level skills programme and supported by guest speakers from Ryder Architecture and Bentley Systems as well as guest judges from Hydrock and Morgan Sindall.

The 30+ delegates were organised into teams of six – each incorporating members from opposite cohorts – adding a competitive edge to the training!

As a result, the collaborative spirit of the programme was such that the teams remained unafraid to exchange knowledge, lifting each other up and elevating the impressiveness of the work overall when it came to the final presentations.

At the end of the five days of training, our delegates left feeling proud of what they had achieved, and our team left with complete confidence in the abundant skill and ability of the up-and-coming generations.

The second Virtual Project was held in Newcastle, this time delivered to students from the esteemed CESI Ecole d’Ingenieurs in Paris. These students, the recent winners of a BIM competition held by the school, enjoyed a week in Newcastle as their prize, undertaking the Virtual Project with BIM Academy and visiting the sites of several ongoing projects in the city centre (facilitated by Ryder Architecture).

This Virtual Project was markedly different from the previous course, in terms of their existing knowledge and experience from CESI and beyond.

Highly professional work was completed to a very impressive standard and at the end of the training, the team presented a realistic and viable portfolio of work which comprehensively reflected on the processes followed in its production, considered the future operations of the facility proposed and impressed the judges with the sheer level of professionalism and technical ability on display.

Future Learning for the Digital Built Environment

The continued success of the BIM Academy Virtual Project programme showcases its impact and adaptability as a transformational educational experience. It also demonstrates BIM Academy’s commitment to Future Learning; shaping the future of digital education by delivering engaging, immersive experiences that bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Our expertise and leadership in this field enables us to empower individuals and organisations to revolutionise the digital built environment by methodical upskilling and the effective exchange of knowledge.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, BIM Academy remains dedicated to unleashing the full potential of information management for current and future generations of professionals.

If you would like to know more about our Virtual Project training and how it can work for your team and your projects, contact John at [email protected].

About the author

John Millar

Technologist, BIM Academy

John is responsible for providing support to the BIM Academy team and assisting in the delivery of projects. He completed his Masters degree in Advanced Construction Technologies & BIM at University of Strathclyde in 2019, where his research work – focused on BIM evolution and asset management within NHS Scotland – was awarded a scholarship by the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC). Outside of work, John is a multi-instrumentalist and producer, and has a keen interest in composition and music technology.