27 NOV 2015

Bringing engineering to life at Skills Show

Using BIM in engineering to attract talent to the industry

Students, young people, tutors and parents visiting The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham were given an exciting insight into the latest developments in engineering technology and careers, courtesy of multidisciplinary design and engineering company, BakerHicks (formerly Morgan Sindall Professional Services).

Exhibiting within the show’s ‘Future Skills Zone’ to demonstrate latest thinking, and specifically the role of Building Information Modelling (BIM), BakerHicks showed how theory has been put into practice in recent high-profile projects including Whitechapel Station and Pudding Mill Lane. Interactive demonstrations, videos and complex ‘fly-around’ building models were used to reveal how BIM can increase the efficiency and reliability of design and construction. 

The show, now in its fourth year, attracted nearly 70,000 visitors and is the country’s largest skills and careers event. Attended by nearly 3,000 businesses in an exhibition hall the same size as 12 football pitches, David Williamson, director for architecture at BakerHicks, says it was an invaluable opportunity to engage with young people and help to promote architecture and engineering as diverse and exciting career options:

"We feel we have a responsibility to help to ensure a pipeline of talent flows into our industry,” he says. “Centering our stand around BIM worked very well to help us visually demonstrate the advanced capabilities of design within the country’s critical infrastructure."

The stand showed students, parents and those working in education the different levels of BIM, starting from how designing a building in 3D enables clash detection, using Whitechapel to show how reliably an engineer can use 3D BIM to ensure even the most complex structures, their assets and infrastructure are included within one practical and feasible design. They demonstrated 4D BIM, using the Pudding Mill Lane project to show how it can optimise the construction sequence to ensure the most efficient use of time and space. The presentations continued with 5D, and how BIM incorporates cost into the design allowing contractors to clearly communicate how different building methods and materials will impact hours spent and the overall cost of the project.

Finally, the most advanced 6D BIM environment was demonstrated through a Glasgow-based project, where in addition to all previous BIM layers, every asset of a building is built into the design, giving facilities managers the most finite detail about every door, light fitting, lift and window, all in one coordinated federated design model.

"The reaction from students was exactly what we wanted," continues David. "They were genuinely amazed at what technology in engineering is able to achieve. The discipline is not just about number crunching and complex drawings, and with software and technology advancements such as BIM there are limitless opportunities for students wishing to enter the profession in the future."

The Skills Show was held between 19 - 21 November.