Neha Sadruddin is a BIM (Building Information Modeling) specialist working at BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), New York. She completed her architectural education at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, Brooklyn, New York. We spoke to her about her journey after graduating college to becoming a BIM specialist at one of the best architecture firms in the world.
What a BIM Specialist Does – And How to Become One
Sai Sreekar Chebiyyam
Writer at Oneistox
● 8.5 mins read
We are trying to develop in-house BIM plugins that automate some of the mundane tasks in the modeling and documentation workflows. These plugins save a significant amount of time for Architects & Designers to concentrate more on the creative side of the job.
Let us dive into the QnA and understand the role of a BIM specialist from insights by Neha Sadruddin.
Q1. Who is a BIM specialist? Can you define the role and how a regular day looks for one?
BIM specialist is a significantly essential member of the in-house BIM team, which provides support for:
• Various projects in producing BIM models
• Making construction sets
• Guiding through complex modeling
• Managing the models
• Training freshers in BIM
• Conducting post-deadline reviews to streamline the workflow
• Developing the BIM Library
• Setting up office standards, templates
• Developing in-house tools to save time by automating mundane tasks
Q2. We've heard that you've also actively taken up coding recently. Is developing in-house automation tools a tipping point that pushed you towards the coding realm
Yes, it is one of the reasons. We are trying to develop in-house BIM plugins that automate some of the mundane tasks in the modeling and documentation workflow. These plugins save a significant amount of time for Architects & Designers to concentrate more on the creative side of the job.
Q3. Previously, you worked on several projects in parametric design. Could you describe that journey for us?
I have worked on a few projects that required parametric modeling assistance. Fundamentals remain the same, but the approach varies on the project; for example, we use adaptive components to make complex facades. Visual scripting in Grasshopper (especially after Rhino 7) is one of the famous solutions for massing. A hybrid approach and several plugins would make up a final parametric model most of the time.
SJFA - San Jose Fountain Alley: Proposal by BIG Architects (Source: BIG Architects)
Q4. Did you ever practice anything independently outside of your regular job?
I have done some freelance projects but collaborating with Oneistox is the most recent pursuit. It's pretty interesting to mentor BIM enthusiasts; this process has also become a learning experience for me to update my methodologies, considering the challenges students face.
Q5. What BIM software do you typically work with, and how do they impact the AEC (Architecture Engineering and Construction) industry?
Revit is the most common one I use with many other plugins like pyRevit, Ideate, and Rhino inside. Dynamo and C# also has a huge potential to collaborate, automate Revit workflow starting from schematic design to construction documents or parametric modeling. We used Navisworks as a collaboration and clash detection tool, which is now beginning to be dominated by ACC Model Coordination.
Q6. Name one sacred BIM practice that you always follow at work.
We are always on the lookout for the latest plug-ins that can boost productivity. We test and incorporate them into our workflow from time to time. However, I would say, our most sacred assets are our custom templates and libraries that we are constantly developing so they're well-equipped to serve as a good starting point for the project teams. It is a real joy for me to see teams use them!
First look: Integrated Sciences Plan | Claremont McKenna College (Source: BIG Architects)
Q7. How do you grow your knowledge of BIM while working and keep pace with industry trends? Are there any particular channels (like publications, video series, or podcasts) that you follow?
I follow the pyRevit youtube channel most religiously. Revit pure and Aussie BIMGuru are the other two channels with succinct explanations on each Revit feature. They even conduct conversations with experienced BIM specialists to share their insights on the latest trends. I also follow Parametric Architecture's virtual conferences conducted every quarter.
Attending conferences (ex: Autodesk University) is an excellent opportunity for networking and learning the latest trends. AEC Tech by CORE studio | Thornton Tomasetti has many collaborative options like two-day masterclasses and hackathons, exposing us to diverse BIM practices.
Q8. What is the scope of BIM in the future, especially in developing countries?
There is a lot of potential in third-world countries for BIM when all the stakeholders have sufficient knowledge and experience to practice it. But once that starts, the graph is going to be quite steep.
Q9. What, according to you, is the ideal time to start learning BIM as the field is very vast and rapidly growing?
The sooner, the better (smiles)! Having BIM in your quiver of skills would always stand out and give an edge while applying for jobs. Precisely, one can start practicing BIM after getting essential AEC knowledge and before getting into a career. This timing would allow one to work with BIM practicing firms which could be a great way to start one's BIM career.
[Read: Salaries and Career Growth of BIM Professionals in India to know more about BIM careers in India]
LAAD - Los Angeles Arts District - Project in progress by BIG (Source: BIG Architects)
Q10. Can one become a BIM specialist without getting certified? If so, what is the way to go about it?
I am not certified (smiles). I consistently pushed myself to work on BIM jobs during my work under our BIM manager, and that upgraded my skill. Either good significant experience or certification can be helpful to become a BIM specialist.
Q11. Students and freshers are generally confused about which specialisation to take up. How does one know if a field like BIM is suitable for them?
If one wants to do a Master's course in BIM, it's best to take advice from alumni or work (internship) at a BIM practicing firm for a while. One should make sure they understand the depth and breadth of the field to check if that's suitable for them.
Q.12 There are many open-source resources for learning BIM, like YouTube channels; for instance, Revit has Autodesk tutorials & forums and some cheaper online tutorials. Why would you recommend Oneistox's BIM Professional Course to someone?
• Well, one would be learning from BIM experts from across the globe. So we make sure our students get a holistic knowledge of the subject.
• This six-month course would give them time to hone their BIM software skills and thoroughly understand the AEC workflow.
• We consistently respond to students' doubts throughout the course and support them even after six months.
• And most of all, we provide hands-on experience to the students by making them apply the learned knowledge on projects under our supervision.
We hope you now have a better idea about the job of a BIM Specialist!
If you see yourself saving more time for the AEC industry as a BIM Specialist, start your career with Oneistox’s BIM Professional Course! For more resources on BIM, parametric design, software & tools, industry trends, and career, head to the Learning Hub!
Sai Sreekar Chebiyyam
Sreekar graduated from Clemson University with an M.Arch degree and works as an Architectural Designer at CRGA Design in Baltimore. He aced IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) and LEED Green Associate certifications out of his interest in sustainable architecture. His research interest lies in Extended reality, Extreme (Extraterrestrial) habitats, Automation in the AEC industry, and Parametric Architecture.
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