Analysis of the difficulties of integrating BIM technology and methodology in AEC grades
The arrival of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to the working world entails the need for the integration of this methodology in the curricula of universities to train future professionals.
The integration of BIM, both in the business and in the university environment, implies a technological change, but also a methodological change in terms of the management of multidisciplinary processes and workflows. The companies that decide to carry out an implementation of this type and manage to do it successfully are those that carry out both changes simultaneously. Spanish universities have been offering BIM management masters for some years now, in which they teach technology and processes, i.e. the complete methodology. However, when the time has come to integrate it into degrees, they have focused only on technology, leaving aside the processes and workflows that complete the BIM methodology. This problem stems from the impossibility of changing the curricula in an agile way to integrate this methodology, which leads to integrate BIM only in subjects that teach software and do not make BIM transversal between subjects, as it happens in the working world.
In the work presented, the teaching of BIM credits in all Spanish universities that offer Architecture and Technical Architecture and Building degrees, in order to analyze common needs and problems. The problems encountered lead to a study of the world situation, at a broader and global level, to check if there are regulated bases that universities can use. A specific BIM implementation design is also carried out for the specific case of the Ramon Llull University (URL), in the degrees of Architecture and Technical Architecture and Building of the Escuela Técnica-Superior de Arquitectura La Salle (ETSALS). It details the processes, strategies and issues that have been carried out in the development of the same for 3 consecutive years (2018-2021), which affect the entire curriculum.
On the case study of ETSALS, a mixed user-centered approach has been carried out in several phases: a first quantitative analysis by means of student surveys during the three years with a linear process over time, to evaluate the learning process of students in the subjects that teach BIM to continue with the improvement of the project development and evaluate the evolution of the student body in different courses. On the other hand, in order to ensure that BIM is applied transversally, the difficulties of the subjects that do not exclusively teach BIM but that must apply BIM processes or workflows in their contents are analyzed. For this purpose, a second quantitative analysis is carried out during the first three years of the research by means of surveys to the teaching staff. The research culminates with a qualitative analysis, carried out through semi-structured interviews with students, professors and non-teaching professionals in order to analyze the cause of the problems encountered and demonstrate that these difficulties are common in many university institutions and, therefore, so are the needs to successfully integrate BIM.
The results obtained are divided into two clearly differentiated sections: the integration of technology in the subjects dedicated to teaching tools and the integration of processes and workflows in the different areas that make up the entire curriculum. As in other research in this field, the integration of technology in the curricula is carried out with greater or lesser difficulty, but obtains positive results in student learning and motivation. However, the difficulty lies in the processes that must be carried out in a transversal way, since students do not use these technologies outside the classroom, teachers have difficulties in making a change of such magnitude in their subjects, etc. Furthermore, in order to integrate a transversal and multidisciplinary methodology, there must be great coordination between subjects, which is not possible without changing the curriculum. Some researchers have made their own proposals for implementation in degrees and managed to include BIM technology and processes in transversal workshops. These proposals have not modified the curriculum, but have been integrated into the existing one and have usually been done on an optional basis. No inclusion data have been found that cover the entire curriculum in a mandatory and consistent way (they have been found in a theoretical way but not in a practical way).
As will be seen throughout the research, after the systematic review, some of the research questions are answered and, after the empirical framework, the others are answered, reaffirming and qualifying previous research, and analyzing in depth the difficulties involved in such a change. The analysis is carried out from a differential perspective, focusing on the users' experience according to their profile. The institutions agree that they need a basis to regulate the change, and some of them are working on drawing up a guide that can be used by the different institutions. However, there is still little research on BIM in the educational environment, making it difficult for universities to collaborate and find common solutions. On the other hand, the change is being made from the bottom of the pyramid, usually from the graphic expression area but they do not have enough authority to carry it out, it must come from the educational standards, it is the university management that must promote the change.
This research compiles the common difficulties that universities have and shows that the difficulties found in the specific case of the URL coincide with those mentioned by other researchers and BIM coordinators in their research. The differential point of the research aims to be the deep and exhaustive analysis of these difficulties in a systematic and scientific way, from different points of view to detect common points between opinions of BIM coordinators, teachers, students and CEOs of companies working in BIM methodology and to provide an effective and efficient starting point for future BIM integration plans at training level. And finally, to demonstrate that it is possible and successful to integrate BM technology from the subjects and without modifying the curricula, but it is not feasible, nor possible, to integrate BIM methodology without modifying the current internal structure of the curricula.
The limitations of this research are studies that aim to discover answers similar to those of this thesis and that could have been published during the development of this thesis and the early obsolescence that it could have due to the rapid technological advancement. It is necessary to continue researching in the field of BIM methodology applied to the educational field since, even though it is growing, there is still a world to discover and many questions to answer. The future lines of this research are focused on investigating those institutions that are creating regulatory bases, discovering if the educational systems plan to include them and continuing with proposals and improvements in the specific case of ETSALS, after the three consecutive courses analyzed in this paper.