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VDC and BIM customized program at Stanford University for our engineers

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is training and certifying its core employees in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) with a customized program delivered by Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE).


2015 graduates of the VDC-BIM customized program at Stanford

Front row, left to right: Steve Si Tran, US; Francois Steyl, South Africa; Vincent Plourd, Canada; Stephanie Upson, US; Ashok Rajamani, Singapore. Back row, left to right: Dave McAlister, US; Jay Mezher, US; Martin Fischer, Stanford University, US; Mike Williams, Project Production Institute, US; Simon Smith, Australia; Mark Patis, Australia; Andrew Powell, UK.

In December 2015, the new, one-of-a-kind online program – developed specifically for our firm when VDC/BIM became a common practice across our operations - certified its first graduates at an awards ceremony on campus in Palo Alto, California.

VDC/BIM has brought a whole new paradigm to how engineers work – among themselves and with clients. Don’t be misled by the word ‘building’: BIM is just as relevant to the civil engineering sector.

VDC/BIM combines technology with work processes and applies to the entire lifecycle of a project. It offers time and cost savings and greater estimation accuracy, and prevents losing information that would result in errors, changes and rework. To achieve all the benefits that VDC/BIM offers, everyone in the architecture, engineering and construction industries has to learn to work in fundamentally new ways.

“This program is about understanding the technology’s impacts on the project delivery process, products and organization,” says Jay Mezher, director of virtual design and construction at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and a graduate of CIFE’s original on-campus program. “It covers everything from theory behind VDC/BIM to tools used on the job.”

The certification program places WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff at the forefront of industry practices, says CIFE director Martin Fischer, who is also a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. “The company is demonstrating a commitment to the future. It creates a metric to identify leading practitioners in its ranks while advancing its offerings to clients in the marketplace. There are not many companies that can say that.”

Participants obtain several benefits – a network of international colleagues, opportunities for sharing best practices, a common terminology and outlook, and credentials respected in the industry. “It’s important for us to be on the cutting edge of this technology as it evolves,” says David McAlister, global director of transport and infrastructure at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. “We train our employees with this unique program at a university of Stanford’s calibre to ensure that clients get the very best expertise available when they turn to us.”

Mr. Mezher says the company is also creating a global virtual center of excellence for VDC/BIM practices, with examples from the US and Canada to Singapore and from the UK to South Africa. “What comes out of it is a series of prototypes and case studies that can be shared across the company to leverage our global expertise and generate better quality projects.”

With that comes a deeper understanding of how VDC/BIM has changed the way engineers, architects and construction managers work. “There is more collaboration and more awareness of information that is shaping the project,” says Mr. Mezher. “Everyone understands the lifecycle and gains a sense of ownership at any stage of the project.”