Digital Building Lab Students Make Impression at Conference

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Georgia Tech students were out in full force at the semi-annual BIMForum of the Association of General Contractors held in Atlanta recently.

BIMForum is one of the nation’s most important conferences on building information modeling (BIM) – a new development in design and construction using three-dimensional models for architecture, engineering, and construction.

Georgia Tech was the only academic program that had a formal presence at this event, according to Dennis Shelden, one of the event organizers. Students from architecture, civil engineering, and building construction joined the meetings, staffed a booth with an academic poster series, and discussed their work and papers with senior leaders of many of the top construction firms in the country.

Shelden, also director of the Digital Building Lab, said the students were received well. “The professional community was enthusiastic to have our students engaged in the event and to make the connection bridging between educational and professional work,” he said.

Two of those students talked about their experiences.

Keresh Afsari is a Ph.D. candidate in architecture focusing on design computation. She presented two posters at the booth. About six students staffed the booth, which also held work from master’s students as well as research papers from several students who work with the DBL.

One highlight of the conference for Afsari was a session on open BIM and the standardization of BIM data exchange. She called BIM standardization her "passion" and what she has been working on for the past few years.

The key, she said, is standardization and whether different industries -- architecture, construction, and engineering -- can communicate with each other.

Another student at the booth was Jeffrey Collins, a Ph.D. student in architecture and instructor in the undergraduate Media and Modeling class. He co-teaches with Shelden, who is also an associate professor in the School of Architecture.

Collins said he found it interesting to see the representation of industry, academia, professionals, and software manufacturers, and the overlap of what people are working on in all those fields.

He said it is “always beneficial to talk about the work I have done. … My poster is still in progress so it is always nice to think about it for a second, verbalize it to someone else, make sure they understand, and get some feedback.

“We want our work to be beneficial to all of those four categories.”

Overall, Afsari and Collins both felt student attendance at the event was successful.

Afsari said lots of people visited the booth, and she was excited to see people interested in their work.

Collins said there was a “constant flow of people.”

Both said they made connections with industry representatives and exchanged business cards with people who might want to collaborate with the DBL.

According to Shelden, “Many new professional organizations were introduced to the DBL and expressed interest in participating with the activities of the DBL and Georgia Tech. We are in discussions with several of them regarding participation at Georgia Tech as DBL members, research sponsors, co-op student supporters, and educational mentors.”

The event was organized by the Digital Building Lab. Professor Chuck Eastman and Associate Professors Dennis Shelden and Russell Gentry gave a plenary presentation on “BIM 2.0: Data Coordination and Exchange in a Connected World.” Shelden and Gentry worked with the students to organize the event.


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