Earlier this year, Seventeen of the region’s main contractors, including four SMEs, working under the YORhub group of frameworks attended a session with School of Built Environment students where they discussed their personal and industry experiences of digital technologies with a view to supporting the final year students with their research dissertation projects. This session was brought together by the School’s thinkBIM network, a knowledge exchange group promoting the uptake and development of digital technologies and digital skills in the construction industry, and supported by YORhub, a management hub for several of the region’s key construction procurement frameworks; including YORbuild, YORcivil and YORconsult. The Yorhub framework has a BIM as a key theme. The idea behind the session was to explore how the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate research can help identify the key barriers, carry out detailed analysis of the issues and explore solutions to support the industry as part of their studies.
At the session, five students were able to conduct semi-structured interviews and provide questionnaires to the assembled contractors to inform their research topic areas. The students were from the school’s Quantity Surveying, Civil Engineering and Project Management programmes. The outcomes of these discussions and the subsequent research undertaken since were presented at the Autumn thinkBIM conference on Digital Skills.
One of the students who presented was Joseph Bogg (pictured), former BSc Civil Engineering student and now graduate Consultant at Turner and Townsend. His presentation was on the challenges that the AEC Sector have faced in adopting BIM (Building Information Modelling) and his research had indicated there was a huge digital divide between large and SME businesses with smaller companies finding BIM more of a challenge despite their simple business structures. Joseph also identified that digital uptake needed to be driven by the clients otherwise there was no motivation for SMEs to adopt it which therefore leads to a large skills gap between SMEs and the main contractors.
Other topics covered in the student’s research included the correlation between use of BIM and project performance, BIM for existing buildings and “Can Digital technologies be used to improve health and safety”. The results of these have since been passed back to the YORhub framework to inform their members going forward. A meeting has already taken place between the School and YORhub Joint Chair of Operations for YORhub, Steve Baker, to identify topics for next year’s student dissertations. This partnership is the first of what the school hopes to be many more informal industry partnerships that can be used to strengthen the industry-academia output to inform good practice. Please do get in touch with email@example.com if you would like to get involved with our thinkBIM network and our digital research.