Careers in Construction: BIM and VDC

Throughout the month of October, which is Careers in Construction Month, we’ll be exploring a number of different construction career paths at Alberici. To kick off the series, we’ll be taking a look at working in BIM and VDC.

Not all construction work occurs on the jobsite. Alberici’s BIM and VDC experts work to “build” the project virtually to prevent future issues in the field.

What are BIM and VDC?

BIM, or Building Information Modeling, is a process that involves the creation and management of a digital representation of a facility. BIM representations are 3D and can also incorporate time as a 4th dimension and cost as a 5th dimension. Creating a BIM representation is highly collaborative and requires involvement from multiple stakeholders including architects, engineers and specialty subcontractors. Once a BIM model is created, it can be used to view a project from different angles, to detect design clashes (for example pipes running into ductwork), to verify if work in the field has been installed as designed and as a communication tool for the construction team.

VDC, or Virtual Design and Construction, describes the work that can be done using the models created through BIM.

What do Virtual Construction Professionals do?

At Alberici, Virtual Construction professionals combine BIM models created by architects, engineers and subcontractors to create a complete, fully coordinated BIM representation. Using the comprehensive model, Virtual Construction professionals are able to identify clashes in design as well as identify constructability issues. In the field, superintendents and Project Managers use the model to plan and discuss the work and to verify that work is installed as designed.

Alberici’s Virtual Construction professionals also work with the estimating and marketing teams. When Alberici is pursuing work, BIM can be used to show an owner what a new facility would look like. Estimators can pull quantities from a model, a quicker and sometimes more accurate approach to completing an estimate.

Building a Career in VDC

There are many different pathways to a career in Virtual Design and Construction, including an increasing number of university programs. Many universities offer courses in the management and use of BIM; some even offer degrees specializing in Virtual Design and Construction within a Construction Management or Engineering program.

Many Virtual Design and Construction professionals come to the field from an architectural, engineering or construction management background, and further their knowledge with continuing education focused on BIM. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) offers a credential for BIM, and several Alberici employees have earned this CM-BIM credential.

Formalized training can lay a solid groundwork for a career in Virtual Design and Construction, but it cannot replace hands-on experience. Managing the process and understanding the intricacies with various software, ensuring all models are coordinated, and managing various competency levels of those working in the model can really only be mastered in the field.

In addition to formal training and hands-on experience, a focus on technology, attention to detail and management capabilities are all essential to success in this field.

As Alberici’s Director of Project Controls and Virtual Construction Brooks Williams explains, working in Virtual Construction is a satisfying because like construction, it “offers fresh challenges, and figuring out how to leverage technology allows us to build better projects.”