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Mary Moscarello
Mary Moscarello
Mary Moscarello has two decades of experience in the field of broadcasting and communications. She has served major broadcast news and cable networks in the New York market as a writer, producer and assignment editor. She has a strong journalism background in management of public relations and … More »

ARCHICAD, the Ideal Software for Cal Poly Students

April 20th, 2015 by Mary Moscarello

California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) has added BIM as a required course in their curriculum. All students who wish to graduate with a degree in Construction Management must take the course over two quarters. Instructor, Elbert Speidel works to provide comprehensive exposure to the various types of software in the industry today.

“Part of the strategy in being able to teach them BIM is giving them an opportunity to see what is out there. We aren’t exclusively teaching one type of software, since that does not reflect how firms operate. Each firm has its preference and for that reason, there is no one BIM software exclusive to the market.”

Students at California Polytechnic use ArchiCAD during their BIM class. image courtesy of Elbert Speidel

Students at California Polytechnic University  use ArchiCAD during their BIM class. image courtesy of Elbert Speidel

When push comes to shove, Speidel admits he does have his opinions about which software is the most efficient in managing BIM – having had experience working with such a wide variety of options.

“So often we hear certain brand names of software used interchangeably to mean BIM. It is unfortunate, since BIM is a process – never a software. In my experience what you want to power your BIM process is a nimble, easy to operate program that does not add to your bottom line in terms of adding hardware. For me, ARCHICAD is that ideal software.”

Industry trends factor in to Speidel’s estimation of ARCHICAD as well.

“ARCHICAD has an advantage in that it is very IFC friendly. The industry is relying on that more and more to transfer information from program to program and share with others. ARCHICAD converts and works with IFC very well.”

Taking on such a wide range of products, that all handle BIM in different ways and presenting them in a non-endorsing manner, Speidel relies on a strategy to present unbiased information. In his class, students receive a good bit of freedom to really explore and determine which method works best for them.

Students work on projects during a BIM class at California Polytechnic University. image courtesy of Elbert Speidel

Students work on projects during a BIM class at California Polytechnic University. image courtesy of Elbert Speidel

“It would be impossible to teach so many methods and be able to achieve proficiency in any one. For that reason, we encourage the students to really dig in and get immersed in the ones they feel most comfortable operating.”

The students not only complete assignments for a course grade, during the fall/spring quarters students gear up for a BIM competition in Reno, NV. Students build models and create quantity takeoffs, comparing various versions of software with the same model. CalPoly consistently finishes in the top four spots at the competition. Speidel prefers to focus on how quickly students find employment upon graduation.

“Students do well at the competition and we are very proud of that achievement. What is most rewarding to me is recognizing how accomplished they are when they leave here. Firms snap them up because through the course, they have a holistic view of BIM and have been allowed to become as proficient as possible in the one they list best.”

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