Australia is doing reasonably well compared with international peers with regard to its efforts associated with teaching skills relating to Building Information Modelling (BIM), a recent report suggests.

Released last month, the BIM Education Global Summary Report 2013 report outlined the performance of 12 countries with regard to institutional and industry level efforts surrounding BIM awareness and training.

The report noted that many Australian universities were starting to incorporate BIM into undergraduate courses relating to construction and engineering while most TAFE colleges were providing courses where BIM is integrated into the syllabus.

In addition, BIM courses were available through a number of private training organisations, while software vendors were active in providing training on individual programs and in-house instruction was common within many large firms.

The report also notes that a number of new initiatives are underway within academia to improve teaching of BIM, and that adoption of the technology on local projects was widespread. Use in facilities management and maintenance is also on the rise, for example in the Sydney Opera House, where BIM is being used retrospectively to create a working model for FM.

The report suggests, however, that there is further room for improvement, with a large number of university courses covering only basic concepts and topics such as the management of BIM or procedures for working in a collaborative environment receiving scant coverage in many TAFE courses.

The report follows a series of documents published in 2012 by an education working group established by Consult Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects which identified a number of barriers to the change process regarding BIM teaching, including challenges associated with introducing new topics into an already crowded curriculum, a lack of familiarity about BIM and other fast-paced workflow technologies amongst lecturers, resistance to new teaching methods and challenges associated with bridging educations silos of AEC and delivering collaborative courses and programs.

That group identified a range of steps forward, including the need for industry/academia collaboration, a need to demystify the BIM process and develop integrated and coordinated training modules, regular BIM learning opportunities and non-technical BIM materials and a need to assess BIM capabilities among current industry professionals.

Globally, the report says adoption of BIM is on the rise and that many tertiary institutions were either teaching the technology or looking to do so. It warns, however, that much of the BIM-related training focuses around individual software packages while instruction in open BIM concepts, BIM management and working in collaborative BIM environments was in its infancy.

“It is clear from the responses received and the various survey results provided, that BIM awareness and BIM uptake is certainly increasing, with BIM already widely adopted in the AEC industry of  particular countries or with industry/government preparing themselves for the imminent arrival of BIM,” the report says.

“A general reluctance to change in the industry, a ‘wait and see’ approach and a shortage of experienced/educated BIM practitioners/technicians/educators is slowing the inevitable uptake of BIM in the AEC industry.”

“To meet future needs it is clear that tertiary education institutions, with the support and backing of government and industry, need to fully incorporate BIM education into their curricula, to provide the AEC industry with the ‘BIM-ready’ graduates required for the collaborative BIM working environments to which they will be part of.”