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This paper presents a case study of how the adoption of BIM-based practices in the AECO industry is being reflected by cultural change in higher education in Ireland. The silo-mentality that has dominated the AECO sector for more than a century has, despite numerous reorganisations, been replicated in the structures of educational institutions, including in Technological University Dublin since the inception of its founding colleges in the late 1800s. Most AECO programmes must include content that is external to the programme’s specific discipline. Through the School structures of the Institute, delivery of such content is known as "service teaching" and is regarded by some as being of lesser importance than core, discipline-specific content. When new content needs to be fitted into a programme, such as BIM technologies, or when financial constraints reduce contact hours, ‘serviced’ content is often easier to remove or reduce than discipline-specific content because it typically affects non-School staff. Such reductions lead to reduced exposure of students to complimentary skill-sets held by other professionals in the AECO sector and increased separation of disciplines. Without deliberate instigation of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary project work, students are sometimes educated in isolation from the other disciplines with whom they will work during their professional lives. In extreme cases, graduates sometimes have their first interactions with other professionals when they attend their first site meetings or design team meetings on real-world projects. BIM processes require collaboration at all levels in AECO and it is imperative that current and future students are educated within a structure that equips them with the necessary technical, business, and inter-personal skills. The establishment of the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies (SMDT) at the College of Engineering and Built Environment (CEBE) at DIT and the adoption of a college BIM Strategy are essential steps towards facilitating this new dimension of collaborative education. The School currently manages a suite of postgraduate and CPD, modules and programmes related to BIM and, although some staff in the School teach BIM-related content on these programmes, the majority of teaching on SMDT programmes is provided by lecturers from the disciplines of Architectural Technology, Building Services Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Electrical Services Engineering, Geomatics Engineering, Quantity Surveying, and Structural Engineering. SMDT is also investing in physical infrastructure, e.g. a Big BIM Room and laptop lab, to support existing activities but also to create the environment in which collaborative working between disciplines, structured initially around BIM practices but moving towards addressing Lean Construction, Sustainability, and N-ZEB agendas, becomes the norm for students as they progress towards graduation and entry into the professions.
Behan, A. et al.(2015) Cultural Change through BIM: Driving Lean Transformation in Education. CITA BIM Gathering 2015, November 12th -13th 2015