Bringing BIM to a New Level

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Technical high schools are often thought of as “trade schools,” focused on manual trades such as auto mechanics and wood working. That’s mostly 1950s thinking. Today’s technical schools are staffed with experienced teachers and up-to-date technologies like CAD (computer-aided design) and robotics. In Mexico, the CETIS (Center for Industrial Technological Studies) and Services a chain of high schools offer students the opportunity to attain a full technical-professional level degree. For example, in Mexico City, CETIS No. 33 “Carlos María de Bustamante” teaches human resource administration, architecture, construction, and office automation, among other topics.

Martha Velia Mendez Soriano, project coordinator at CETIS No. 33, was concerned about the need to update the digital software taught in the school’s architecture and construction workshops. The CAD applications that they had previously used were unable to digitally combine planning, design, and engineering methodologies. Because the software did not incorporate all BIM (building information modeling) processes, each project phase showcased in the workshops were carried out individually.

Soriano had previously taught architecture and construction workshops with a digital platform that integrated design, projection, supervision, and development, and she understood the value this brings to engineering students. She sought to develop a digital workshop that showcased how all phases of an engineering project could be integrated and how engineers make design and construction decisions based on multidiscipline information and analysis for optimized benefits.

The school amassed a project team comprising both CETIS No. 33’s construction and architecture teachers and software specialists at Bentley Systems to create a digital BIM workshop. The Bentley tool is widely used in the architecture and engineering sectors and having a workshop for BIM technologies will boost academic excellence at the campus, providing more job opportunities to students within the country’s productive sector, by training competent technicians in the professional field.

The workshop classroom on the CETIS No. 33 campus contains a central data processing and integration server, 30 individual computers with Bentley Systems’ applications as the platform, and an unmanned aerial vehicle. The open BIM workshop is a physical space, a classroom that was transformed for students to learn about BIM methodologies with the use of Bentley software. Licensed to use the software, students can access the workshop on campus or virtually at home, and all project data and processing is executed through the workshop server. The BIM workshop’s curriculum spans five semesters. Students will develop distinctive projects each semester with the assistance of the Bentley platform.

Since the General Directorate of Industrial Technological Education, the overall management of the CETIS schools, is currently implementing sustainable energy initiatives, the project team decided to use one of these environmentally friendly plans as the basis for the project carried out in the BIM workshop. The eco-friendly project was developed in cooperation with CETIS No. 33 students using Bentley software. In this regard, the project was utilized for training and education and showed how integrated design software can deliver specific results.

Some of the green initiatives that the school was carrying out included rainwater use for sanitary purposes and powering electricity with solar panels. The project team performed a photogrammetric survey of the campus with an unmanned aerial vehicle to create a reality mesh. They accurately calculated rainwater harvest volumes from the reality mesh to decipher the precise dimensions of the water storage tank required. They found that construction of the water storage tank would decrease water depletion on the campus by 50%.

For the solar panel portion of the initiative, the project team determined where on the campus the photocells should be located to maximize solar energy absorption throughout the year based on the planetary position of the school. They were able to conserve energy resources through the solar exposure calculator used on the digital twin. It was determined that placement of the photocells would reduce the campus’ energy consumption by 25-30%, saving an estimated

50% on electricity bills. Using solar energy to this extent also reduces carbon emissions by 32 tons per year.

Creating the BIM workshop ultimately led to the production of a sustainable campus. As a result of the student project, there is now a rainwater harvesting system and 20 solar panels that

provide electricity to the campus government building, which was identified as the building

receiving the most solar exposure. Therefore, the BIM workshop not only taught students innovative engineering software, it also helped the school understand how their proposed environmental plans would save them money and greatly diminish their carbon footprint.

These projects have a useful life of 25 years at maximum efficiency, since once the campus’ digital twin was available, the appropriate design data was obtained to be able to generate maximum efficiency, thereby supporting and justifying the use of the campus’ economic resources to allocate them to said project.

The digital workshop directly impacts over 900 students studying architecture and construction every semester at CETIS No. 33. The BIM workshop has already started its courses both for teachers and students, using tools such as ContextCapture, MicroStation, Descartes, and OpenBuildings, all integrated under the study plan and the sustainability master project.

The solar and rainwater project of CETIS No. 33 is used as an example of how teachers and students can learn BIM methodology on Bentley applications within the school’s architecture and construction framework. This study has also confirmed the practicality of rainwater harvesting and solar energy on a CETIS campus and encourages other schools to investigate clean energy solutions.

If the BIM workshop and sustainability initiatives are carried out at the approximately 75 campuses that teach construction and architecture, many more students will receive BIM training and tons of carbon emissions would be reduced every year.

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