BIMBeing: The Journey #32
#32 – CADie in the corner…
Photo by Lex Photography from Pexels.
People will often say that you need to “find your voice” in the workplace and they’re right, especially when you’re new to the industry. This is crucially important for all of us in the field of BIM too; we have age-old misconceptions to tackle, and you won’t do that by staying quiet. Speaking up and being heard is the only way to get anywhere.
The misconception that I mention dates back long before the introduction of digital tools into the AEC industry – it started with draftsmen. Traditional designers and engineers would scarcely complete their own drawings; they’d scribble a sketch on a scrap of paper, throw it over to a draftsman and collect their pay-check on the way out of the door. The draftsmen were there to do all of the donkey work, sitting mostly in silence for weeks on end working up plans on a drawing board. These were also the days when a line drawn incorrectly may have lost you a weeks’ worth of work; CTRL + Z just didn’t exist, sounds pretty laborious to me.
When we, as an industry, replaced expensive pens with digital tools we actually stepped sideways in terms of individuals job roles. Computers were introduced and CAD (Computer Aided Design) eventually became the new tool for drawing production. Draftsmen simply became digital draftsmen, they became CADies (CAD Technicians). The tools changed, but the role didn’t – you’re still to sit there, in silence, drawing up the design that’s been scribbled by somebody else. The only difference is that now you’re expected to finish the drawing quicker. Technological progress = 1, actual progress = 0.
Finally came the introduction of Building Information Modelling; a new method of digital information production that represented true progress in the way the industry should work. Unfortunately, most of the industry was only prepared for yet another sideways step – AEC is generally terrible for embracing real change. CADies remained CADies and the expectations, particularly by those that you’d refer to as ‘old school’ in their methods, are unchanged; sit their quietly, churning out information. None of this results in progress, for you as an individual, for the company you work for or for the industry as a whole. BIM must be treated differently, we can no longer play the quiet CADie part. This is exactly why you need to find your voice, because they’ll happily let you sit in the corner producing the same old information otherwise. You must be heard.
To climb the ladder, individually and as a company, you have to ensure that people understand the role you have to play – for those of us in BIM this is really not easy. You need to educate those around you, senior staff and management often included, to ensure they understand what BIM is, what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing and how that can benefit everyone. It’s a bad result all-round if the company is paying a BIM Coordinator salary to somebody that’s only sitting there plodding through drawings.
Note: I’ve touched on the need for greater BIM involvement in previous posts; if you haven’t already, check out posts #10 and #14 in particular. It’s an ongoing issue driven by a lack of understanding in what we BIM’ers can really do. Finding your voice is a part of the solution; we must all ensure that we’re heard.
For any of this to work, first you must really understand your own role. Understand that BIM is more than models and drawings, that it’s an over-arching set of processes that can drive efficiency in every corner of a project or company. Your role intertwines with the roles of every other team member on a project and therefore you must intertwine yourself with the rest of the team. Whether you’re supporting a designer, providing quantities for a QS or assisting a site manager with digital information in the field your contributions to a project or company are far greater than that of a CADie in the corner.
Once you’ve really understood your role it’s time to speak up, interact with the team and implement efficient processes as far as you can possibly reach. Whether it’s document control or project management, BIM has a part to play and you have a role to fulfil. The more teams and individuals that you can engage with and the more efficiencies you can support the more successful you will become; they’ll be lifting you up the career ladder, the climb will have taken care of itself. You’ll also find much more personal fulfilment in your daily role if you’re interacting and working with others; endless work in isolation will feel far more tiresome, less motivating and generally uninteresting (see Post #12 for more on motivation).
Unsure where you are on the career path? Head over to the BIM Competency Assessment. Understand your current role and all that it entails, look ahead to see how you can progress to the next stage and then head back to the office and make your skills known!