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This teacher is no stranger to technology
Ali Clark | Collegio Reporter
Bill Strenth knows how fast the construction industry is changing.
Which is why, when a course comes up to train professionals on a new development, Strenth, a professor in construction management and engineering for the past 14 years, is among the first to line up. In fact, he is one of the first 10 people in the nation to complete the Building Information Modeling (BIM) course work, a development that the construction and contracting fields are using more and more.
Strenth attended his first BIM forum four years ago and began taking course work last year. He had to take four courses on the subject in Kansas City and in San Diego, Calif. Soon he will take the BIM certification test.
BIM assists in simulating construction projects and placing a time schedule on those designs. Users are able to see what they are building and how long it will take before they actually begin the project. Before BIM, people in the construction field used blueprints. Each engineer would draw his own print, depending on his or her specialty.
“The problem is, when contractors get ready to put it together, they run into each other,” Strenth said. BIM allows the contractor to see this before construction starts. They can run a flash detector on the building design and the program will detect if there are any problems, like pipes running through duct work. The problem can then be corrected beforehand.
“It’s taking a drawing and making it intelligent,” Strenth said.
BIM is about five years old, but the software in computers is just getting to where it’s much easier to wor
k BIM than before and more people are starting to get more involved. Strenth taught a class on BIM in the spring semester and the construction department is now trying to implement it into all of its classes. Teachers are even looking at making a 12-hour emphasis in BIM available, as well as possibly even a minor.
“The industry is coming to us and saying they’re really looking for people to do this,” Strenth said. “There’s a demand for it.”
Students are using BIM not only in their classes but in internships and full-time jobs.
For example, graduate student Alan Espinoza started learning BIM in his Advanced Construction Management class last fall, taught by Strenth. He also took the BIM class this past spring. He used what he learned in an internship this summer and now the company has hired him full time.
“What we do is mechanical piping,” Espinoza said. “So we coordinate with all the other trades on the job. That’s what BIM has allowed everybody to do, is coordinate on the job before construction starts. So we use that on a daily basis. We do 3D modeling to coordinate with all the other trades to make sure that everything is going to go in smoothly before construction starts.”
Many of Strenth’s other students are using it in their internships and new jobs as well.
“I think it’s very impressive,” Espinoza said. “You wouldn’t think that an older gentleman would, no, I’ll call him an old man. You wouldn’t think an old man would be involved in technology like he is.
“He is involved in so many different user groups and he is up to date on the latest technology and the latest software. He takes that to the classroom.”