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George Brown College opens trailblazing BIM lab

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With $500,000 in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Toronto’s George Brown College has opened a Building Information Modeling (BIM) lab at its Casa Loma campus.
George Brown College opens trailblazing BIM lab

With $500,000 in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Toronto’s George Brown College has opened a Building Information Modeling (BIM) lab at its Casa Loma campus.

Thought to be a first of its kind at a community college or university in Canada, the facility will be available for applied research projects and partnerships with the architectural, construction and government sectors. It includes incubator space for small and medium-sized businesses.

“Our goal is to be the Canadian leader in the delivery of BIM training programs,” said college president Anne Sado at the opening.

“Our state-of-the-art facility not only provides enormous learning opportunities for our students, but also for our industry partners.

“Together, we’ll work on projects that cover all aspects of virtual design and construction — from project procurement to building processes and facility management.”

The facility has been equipped with the necessary hardware and software, including a 3D Viz screen system by Christie Digital Systems.

The opening of the lab is considered an important milestone in the construction of the college’s newest applied research facility, the Green Building Centre. The space is intended to foster innovation in the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.

Guests at the opening included nine members of the board of the Canada BIM Council (CanBIM).

“This is a bold move by George Brown and one that will likely set them apart as a college seeking better alignment with industry by ensuring its graduates can get up to speed quickly in a rapidly evolving industry,” said council president Allan Partridge, a principal at Group2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd.

He said CanBIM, which held its annual general meeting, regional session and technology exhibition on the same day as the lab opening, has been actively exploring how to better align academia and industry around the BIM agenda.

“This is the first of what we will likely see as a trend across Canada.”

At the opening, CanBIM vice-president Tom Strong, director of virtual construction at EllisDon, demonstrated the complexity of BIM coordination using the new technology.

Establishment of the lab is one of several BIM-related initiatives at the college designed to produce graduates with the skills to lead BIM departments in design and construction businesses. George Brown already offers training programs in Autodesk’s Revit and Navisworks software. The college is poised to pilot the curriculum for a graduate certificate program in BIM management in January.

“Now that the students are savvy with the software, we wanted to take them beyond that type of training into BIM management, so that they can fit into design and construction firms as design specialists or BIM co-ordinators,” said Clint Kissoon, chair of the school of architectural studies and the Angelo Del Zotto school of construction management at the Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies.

Kissoon said the new incubator space in the new BIM lab will be particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the financial resources to set up in-house BIM departments. The lab will give firms access to cutting-edge equipment and highly qualified college staff and faculty.

While some BIM labs have been put in place in the private sector, Kissoon said he is unaware of any other such facilities at the community college or university level in Canada.

“I think I can safely say that we are the first.”

by Patricia Williams

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