The Engineering of BIM

One of the most important concepts that I learned in college was a very specific definition of the word "engineering." I don't remember exactly where I first heard this definition, but I seem to recall it was an offhand remark made about the profession by a seminar lecturer. I like it because it is simple yet comprehensive in how it can be applied. Here is my definition of engineering:

Engineering is the use of math, science, and technology to optimize a solution to a problem.

There is a tool set that we use – math, science, and technology – to solve a problem in an optimized way. The focus is on a solution and the tool set makes it the best solution.

This definition works with all types of engineering. Geotechnical engineering is the optimization of soil stability and foundation structures. Structural engineering optimizes material, cost, and performance. Financial engineering optimizes risk against financial benefit. Traffic engineering optimizes safety and utility against cost. Regardless of the specific engineering subgenre, this definition applies.

For many problems, there are solutions that can be found that don't use math, science, or technology. For example, "throwing money at the problem" isn't an engineering approach, even though it does get to a solution. The essence of engineering is the use of a tool set to achieve optimization.

Why is this all important?

Let's think about engineering in relation to building information modeling (BIM). The problem we have in BIM is that we don't have enough people to do BIM jobs or we can't do BIM fast enough. The practical, non-engineering solution may be to just hire, train, or poach more people to do the work. But that isn't an engineering approach because it isn't optimizing a solution or using math, science, or technology.

So how do we apply engineering concepts to BIM? Look no further than BuildingSP. We're using algorithms to provide optimized solutions to BIM routing problems. We're eliminating clash from the workflow, raising productivity, and leveraging the best value of people through strategic thinking rather than manual doing. At BuildingSP, we apply engineering concepts to BIM to get the job done right and with efficiency.


Make sure to check out the work we’re doing in computational BIM and the automation of MEP modeling. BuildingSP is at the forefront of the application of generative design to AEC, and we look forward to better tools changing how we specify BIM on projects. You can contact us at 

Tags: BIM Construction Productivity Engineering

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