BIM training: back to basics

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buildingSMART, the driving force behind openBIM and common BIM standards, has developed a learning framework to establish a global benchmark for BIM training

The buildingSMART Professional Certification Program is a new learning framework for BIM that is not only designed to ensure international best practice but will also call for all built environment professionals working in BIM to adhere to the same common standards.

We spoke with Mark Baldwin, Head of BIM Management at Man and Machine in Switzerland and the leader of the program, to find out more.

Q: What’s at the core of the new Professional Certification Program?

A: This new Program has been designed to fill a gap where there is a need to introduce the basic concepts and principles of BIM on a global level.

buildingSMART has developed the Program to be delivered in two Phases: Phase 1, which is the Individual Qualification, has now been successfully launched globally, and Phase 2, is the Professional Qualification which will be a more comprehensive version and is still in the developmental stages.

At the core of Phase 1, Individual Qualification, is the Learning Outcome Framework and this defines specific learning objectives for basic BIM education. We found there was still a need for foundation level understanding of what is BIM and how to implement it.


Q: What is your role in the Program development?

A: I am the leader of the international committee that has developed the Program. I am also the national representative for the Program in Switzerland. The international committee is made up of representatives from seven buildingSMART Chapters: Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK and Ireland.

Q: Who do you expect to embark on the Program? Is it for the mass BIM audience?

A: This is a broad Program applicable for all sectors within the built environment. It is not specialist training for BIM experts – that will come in Phase 2.

In our first Phase we have set out the framework for defining a minimum standard in BIM knowledge.

Q: Is the framework BIM-tool agnostic?

A: Most certainly. buildingSMART, as the home of openBIM, has an obligation to support software-neutral standards and best practices. This makes absolute sense at this fundamental level of education, which this Program is based on. We refer to general principles and established international standards – including the new ISO 19650 series and the buildingSMART technical standards.

Q: What impact will this new Program have on the AEC industry, both domestically for the UK and on a global scale?

A: The international construction industry has been calling out for a Program like this for many years, so we are expecting a lot of uptake. There are of course many education programs on the market, but buildingSMART really sets a new benchmark here. Firstly, the Program is international. That means that organisations operating in multiple countries can be assured that their staff are receiving consistent training regardless of where they are located. Secondly, buildingSMART is not associated with any training organisation. buildingSMART sets a standard, by defining the learning framework and administering the individual qualification, via an online exam. And thirdly, buildingSMART is internationally recognised as a neutral and not-for-profit organisation.

Q: How do these processes fit in /compliment UK standards and the BSI Kitemark?

A: The learning objectives are very much aligned with the UK Standards, or more specifically, the international (ISO) standards that have been developed from the BSI/PAS 1192 series.

Q: How will the Program be delivered, and who will provide the actual training?

A: buildingSMART International has developed the core framework. This is now being adopted, adapted and translated by buildingSMART Chapters around the world. (You can see which countries are involved on Training organisations who wish to be ‘buildingSMART approved’ need to apply through their local Chapter. In the UK, this is managed jointly with the UK BIM Alliance.

Q: Have the buildingSMART Chapters begun the roll-out? Who is receiving this training right now and who’s next?

A: Eleven buildingSMART Chapters have officially joined the program. Germany has taken a lead with the first national launch of the Program in May 2018. Spain, Canada and Switzerland will be releasing their Program’s in the coming months. It is predicted the UK will also be market-ready before the end of 2018.

Q: Is there any cost associated with becoming certified?

A: In Phase 1, we are not using the term certified or certification. Certification is a formal (ISO defined) process that will first be addressed in Phase 2. Within Individual Qualification we talk about ‘approving’ training providers and ‘qualifying’ individuals. The approval process for training providers costs between EUR 1,500 and EUR 2,500 (depending on the country) and the qualification exam for individual will cost between EUR 75 and EUR 125. We are encouraging training providers to cover the cost of the qualification exam within their course fees, so that individuals do not need to pay a separate fee.

Q: Are you working towards an ISO standard?

A: No. We are not currently working towards an ISO standard in this area. However, the Learning Objectives for the Basic module have already been formalised as a German standard, through the VDI association. We are hoping other countries will follow suit to make the content a national standard.

Q: What are buildingSMART’s next steps for the future of the Program?

A: Currently we are focussing on the chapter adoption and roll-out. Parallel to this we will be developing further modules, on top of the Basic module, to expand Phase 1. And of course, our focus going forward will be on developing Phase 2 of the buildingSMART Professional Certification.

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