Date of Award

12-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Schiff, Scott D.

Committee Member

Nielson , Bryant G.

Committee Member

Csernak , Stephen F.

Abstract

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an emerging technology used in the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry. The proliferation of BIM usage across the industry has been swift and prolific. Academia has lagged behind the adoption rate of the industry by not producing enough students with BIM exposure. Thus, the question is whether civil engineering curricula should provide an understanding of BIM technology to students entering the design and construction profession. The immediate objective of this research is to determine if it is important to provide exposure of BIM to undergraduate or graduate students in the civil engineering curricula and if so to what extent and how. Should all civil engineering students be exposed or just a subset (e.g. students interested in structural engineering)? What level of exposure and understanding is optimal for civil engineering students as they enter the profession? The capability of BIM technology has continued to increase over the past few years and it is anticipated that the capability of BIM software will continue to increase as the technology gains adoption in the AEC industry.
To ensure that a BIM course would be valuable for civil engineering students, the current adoption of BIM in curricula at several universities has been examined along with a survey of members of the Structural Engineers Association of South Carolina and interviews with civil engineering professionals. Several options are feasible for CE programs; however, some of these are more beneficial for the student and their level of understanding at various junctures in their studies. BIM exposure can occur at many different levels of a curriculum, including freshman level courses, replacing current engineering graphics courses, at the upper-class level of the curriculum, or as a graduate level course. While this study was originally focused on possible improvements to the civil engineering program at Clemson University, the findings are likely relevant to a large number of existing civil engineering programs. Utilizing the understanding of BIM and the needs of the profession acquired during this research, recommendations are made with respect to the introduction of BIM concepts into a typical civil engineering curriculum.

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