BIM freshers’ week part 1: Shaun Coghill

Logo for BIM freshers' week
Welcome to the first in a short series of interviews timed to coincide with colleges and universities’ freshers’ weeks. The first person to be interviewed is Shaun Coghill, who’s working on an HND in computer-aided architectural design and technologies at New College Lanarkshire.

He’s due to compete in the WorldSkills UK Digital Construction National Finals this November.

BIMplus: What attracted you to a role in BIM/digital construction?

Shaun Coghill: It wasn’t something I was aware of before; I had decided to change careers and went back to college at New College Lanarkshire for Architectural Technologies.

I’ve always been passionate about digital technologies and even as a teenager I would enjoy creating architecture through video games. The course had a heavy emphasis on BIM and digital construction, which just clicked with me immediately. Looking back, I wish I had known about BIM earlier.

Shaun Coghill

‘I find the use of AI in the digital construction field to be fascinating with endless possibilities throughout the whole life cycle of a project’

Shaun Coghill
What’s the biggest professional challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?

Changing careers and going back to college as an older student was intimidating at first, particularly as it was just as the pandemic was unfolding.  

As a mature student, you do worry if you’ll be able to pick it up as well as the younger students, but it came naturally, and I knew I had found the right career for me. Contending with this while adapting to remote working and learning was a challenge, but I’m so glad I stuck with it.

Which technology in BIM and digital construction interests you the most?

I find the use of AI in the digital construction field to be fascinating with endless possibilities throughout the whole life cycle of a project. From design through to building management, it can allow us to reduce waste, cut costs and most importantly, create healthier environments for people to live and work. I really do believe this is going to be a growing and rapidly evolving area vital for the future of the industry.

Do your friends and family understand what you do? And if not, how do you explain it to them?

I think they have a basic grasp of what I do, but it took a fair amount of explaining as I’m usually the one getting asked to fix the computers in the family! I describe it as making a computer version of the project with all the information that comes with that, and following a set of standards to organise that information. Obviously a very genralised description, but it seems to do the trick for someone with no knowledge of the field.

What advice would you give those just starting their study of BIM?

When first encountering BIM, it can be very intimidating and it may take approaching it from a few different ways before it finally clicks in your mind. It can be easy to feel lost or that you don’t belong, but if you’re interested and passionate, then stick with it.

We all had to start somewhere and it’s a constantly changing discipline that keeps the best of us on our toes.

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