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D. Nielsen1, M. Fleming2, A. Kumarasuriyar1

1Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
2University of New England (AUSTRALIA)
In architecture courses, instilling a wider understanding of the industry specific representations practiced in the Building Industry is normally done under the auspices of Technology and Science subjects. Traditionally, building industry professionals communicated their design intentions using industry specific representations. Originally these mainly two dimensional representations such as plans, sections, elevations, schedules, etc. were produced manually, using a drawing board. Currently, this manual process has been digitised in the form of Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) or ubiquitously simply CAD. While CAD has significant productivity and accuracy advantages over the earlier manual method, it still only produces industry specific representations of the design intent. Essentially, CAD is a digital version of the drawing board. The tool used for the production of these representations in industry is still mainly CAD. This is also the approach taken in most traditional university courses and mirrors the reality of the situation in the building industry.

A successor to CAD, in the form of Building Information Modelling (BIM), is presently evolving in the Construction Industry. CAD is mostly a technical tool that conforms to existing industry practices. BIM on the other hand is revolutionary both as a technical tool and as an industry practice. Rather than producing representations of design intent, BIM produces an exact Virtual Prototype of any building that in an ideally situation is centrally stored and freely exchanged between the project team. Essentially, BIM builds any building twice: once in the virtual world, where any faults are resolved, and finally, in the real world. There is however no established model for learning through the use of this technology in Architecture courses.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT), a tertiary institution that maintains close links with industry, recognises the importance of equipping their graduates with skills that are relevant to industry. BIM skills are currently in increasing demand throughout the construction industry through the evolution of construction industry practices. As such, during the second half of 2008, QUT 4th year architectural students were formally introduced for the first time to BIM, as both a technology and as an industry practice. This paper will outline the teaching team’s experiences and methodologies in offering a BIM unit (Architectural Technology and Science IV) at QUT for the first time and provide a description of the learning model. The paper will present the results of a survey on the learners’ perspectives of both BIM and their learning experiences as they learn about and through this technology.