IHEEP 2018: A Digital Drive Toward BIM
Bluebeam VP Sasha Reed connects the DOTs with project partners and academics to uncover the strategy behind global BIM adoption for infrastructure
The Highway Engineering Exchange Program (HEEP) held its 60th annual conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, and this year’s theme centered on BIM for infrastructure projects. Representatives from US departments of transportation (DOTs) and UK infrastructure all came together to discuss not only the value of BIM in infrastructure projects, but also the practical application of modeling deliverables and measurable processes. Bluebeam served as a premier sponsor for the event, with Bluebeam VP of Industry Advocacy Sasha Reed working closely with 2018 IHEEP President and Engineering Support Manager of the Nebraska DOT Jon Starr, to curate a special panel dedicated to BIM for infrastructure.
For many within infrastructure, the mention of BIM strikes a chord of confusion, as digital project delivery has recently exploded within the civil discipline. As the benefits of going digital have become fodder for many a discussion within infrastructure, the value of BIM has become increasingly relevant as the industry progresses within the digital space. learning curve of the industry has not yet allowed it to catch up to BIM. For this reason, Reed wanted to bring together power players from industry, representing a cross-section of DOTs, educators, consultants and software providers to shed light on essential aspects of BIM integration into project delivery from those key perspectives. “As DOTs begin to include BIM/CIM into their project delivery requirements, we see the need for greater dialog between project partners,” explained Reed. “Bluebeam’s goal in partnering with IHEEP was to create the space necessary to step back from the day to day, report on the work underway, and ask the right questions. The result was a multinational exchange, creating a shared understanding of not only what success looks like, but what is needed to guarantee each other’s success.”
- Phil Bell, New York State DOT – Director, Landscape Architecture Bureau, Office of Environment
- George Lukes, Utah DOT – Standards and Design Engineer
- Lance Parve, Wisconsin DOT – Sr. Project Design-Construction Engineer & Co-Chair TRB for Infrastructure- Subcommittee
- Ben Constable, Kiewit Engineering Group – Manager, Virtual Design & Construction
- Will Baron – Keysoft – Product Director
- Kenneth Park, Sr Lecturer in Construction, Construction Program Director Aston University Birmingham, UK
- Daniel Jensen – Michael Baker – Civil Bridge Engineer
“The thought process is, ‘If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not being innovative.’”
– George Lukes, Utah DOT, Standards and Design Engineer
BIM within UK and US infrastructure
The BIM Mandate within the UK has pushed industry to be compliant, while the US has not yet mandated BIM for government projects. Having seen this urgency for BIM within the UK, Keysoft’s Will Baron, an active member of several stakeholder organizations, including the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) Signs and Road Markings Technical Working Party, believes that consistency is the key to buy-in for BIM at the infrastructural level. “BIM is cyclical in nature. One of the ways that we can motivate the individuals to show them this isn’t just extra work for them is to connect the end results of one BIM cycle back to the beginning and restart it across projects; to see it pay dividends.” This theory could be applied to projects in the US, as both US and UK public and private transportation entities are being asked to do more with less under strict requirements and significant restrictions. Although the US use of BIM varies across states, many are taking proactive approaches to implementing it on projects.
Utah DOT rep George Lukes cites managerial support as the key to BIM implementation. “We’re extremely lucky that our management expects us to be innovative,” said Lukes. “The thought process is, ‘If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not being innovative.’ Our mentality is to learn from the mistakes and move on. I think the resiliency is knowing that you aren’t going to get drug through the mud if you make a mistake. You’re more willing to learn from that and move on from that.”
Collaboration in BIM
“BIM is about people, process and technology,” added Dr. Kenneth Sungho Park, a professor at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, with over two decades of international construction research and industrial experience in construction management, BIM application and process improvement. “In process and technology, we are just getting there. But the problem is people; they have to change their mindset. We’ve been teaching the same things for the past four or five decades. We’re trying to integrate these new topics into our curriculum. If the standards are out there, and the technology is out there, then we can help tackle changing the mindset for people to work together in BIM.” The panelists all emphasized the importance of working together to not only define standards and qualitative data necessary for BIM success, but also the culture change needed for worldwide adoption.
“Facilitating digital collaboration is at the heart of Bluebeam’s technology. We consider partnerships like this a natural extension of our technology development,” concluded Reed.