The construction industry has definitely undergone a sweeping change in technology in the last several years. BIM (Building Information Modeling) and CAD (Computer-Aided Design) technologies are now used every day on the job and at the office.
Employees will need initial training on how to work with these tools, but they’ll also need continuing education as time goes on to ensure they can stay in the ever-changing construction tech game. It can, after all, be hard to keep abreast of the ins and outs of new software packages, much less give yourself background on the new features introduced to your regular software with each upgrade.
Lifelong learning and gaining new knowledge well past the years of formal education will continue to become more important. This defines how professionals in the construction industry can continue to see successes on the job after they’ve kicked off their careers. Brushing up on or mastering a totally new software system definitely qualifies as a lifelong learning endeavor— and it needn’t be expensive.
So how do you receive additional training on the BIM, CAD, and visualization software you use every day or learn the ins and outs of these systems for the very first time?
Where to look for BIM and CAD training
The good news is, a number of places offer these services. And for some of them, you don’t even need to leave your office. Remember, this is a process, and it takes time to find the training that fits your needs. In the long-term, however, it is well worth the effort.
First, you’ll need to know what type of training you seek: do you need a general BIM or CAD refresher; a basic introduction course on a type of software; or a look at how to use the features of a new release from a particular vendor? Do you need to become recertified or maintain a BIM or CAD certification? Your answers here can help guide you to the correct place for training.
One tip here is to search for the words “continuing education” or “training” on the association’s website.
- The Association of General Contractors of America (AGC), for example, lists itself as an authorized provider of continuing education and various professional development credits.
- The National Association of Homebuilders maintains a database that can be searched for continuing education providers. Users can search using keywords, such as BIM or CAD, and can specify training type, such as webinar, conference, or workshop.
- The American Institute of Constructors offers online and in-person professional development training opportunities in which you can stay current on industry trends and keep your skills sharp.
2. Community college classes
At many institutions, you needn’t be on a degree path to take classes. It’s worth a call to your local job-training institutions to determine if they offer BIM and CAD training, and whether or not you need to be an enrolled student.
3. Local classes
In a similar vein, AGC also offers courses such as an Introduction to Building Information Modeling class at locations around the country. It hosts a course calendar at its website where you can find pertinent, upcoming classes near you.
4. Online training
This is a popular training method and there are no shortage of online training modules. The learner can proceed through many of those offered at his or her own pace.
The AGC, for example, also offers web-based training throughout the year on a variety of topics. Instructors present these webinars live. Students sign in at the posted time and follow along. They of course have the option of reviewing the material after the presentation. Selected WebEd recordings are available for purchase in the AGC Store following the live webinar. Everyone who registers for a webinar will receive a link with access to the presentation after it has concluded.
Another tip is to check with your BIM or CAD vendor for online learning specific to the software package you use. At the Autodesk University website, for example, you can search for classes by software type (for example, BIM), and by a relevant field, including building and construction.
One BIM class listed at the site, BIM for Builders, for example, offers tips from an 11-year veteran from the building industry. He shares his strategies—both technological and sociological—for executing builder BIM.
This class, like some other Autodesk University classes, isn’t so much training as the sharing of best practices learned on the job. Information modeling planning for builders is inherently difficult, according to the class description. BIM planning practices overwhelmingly focus on design modeling, although the builder is ultimately responsible for critical transitions between design, construction, and turnover.
Also, preconstruction and construction typically start well after design BIM planning. Conventional architect-owner and owner-contractor contracts often limit collaboration between designer and builder. And builders do little to none of their own model authoring, leaving implementation of BIM standards to others. Thus, ‘builder BIM’ must be adaptable and pragmatic to manage the standards and practices of cross-disciplinary partners. The class helps builders learn how to best carry out BIM in light of these challenges.
U.S. CAD’s online training options for those in the construction industry include many pertinent choices, including BIM for Contractors, which promises to describe the application of BIM as related to constructibility analysis and clash detection. It even describes how BIM can affect construction analysis, planning, and integration with cost, schedule control, and other management functions.
Other popular online training options can be found at Udemy, where you can develop your BIM and CAD skills, and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda), which offers hundreds of how-to videos about BIM and CAD taught by industry experts.
Don’t rule these out. Many industry conferences exist and several of them, like Autodesk University held each year in Las Vegas, walk users through how to use the upgrades rolled out on products within the past year or so.
In May, the American Institute of Constructors is holding its Construction Conference in Orlando, Florida. One pertinent presentation is called “Balancing Act: Technology Implementation Across the Contractor Community” while another is called “Types of Technology for Construction: Current and Emerging.”
Going “back to school” via continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities can help you feel like a student again. Soon, you’ll be reaching for more knowledge, growing as a professional, and taking the risks that help your business and your career, soar.
About the Author
Jean Thilmany is a freelance writer in St. Paul. She writes about construction, engineering, and robotics issues and served was an editor at Mechanical Engineering Magazine for 15 years. Her work has appeared in a range of publications.More Content by Jean Thilmany