Welcome to the second part of BIM freshers’ week: a short series of interviews timed to coincide with colleges and universities’ freshers’ weeks. Today, Daniel Chesson, an apprentice architectural technologist at GDM Architects and student at London South Bank University, takes his turn under the microscope.
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?
I went to a construction college and as a part of my course we did a little bit of everything. As it turned out, building 3D models of buildings was way more enjoyable than freezing outside surveying or slaving over spreadsheets as a QS. I had always had the idea of being an architect, but realised from work experience that I enjoyed the modelling and BIM side more than the creative side.
What’s the biggest professional challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?
“I really value the ability to model in 3D and want to explore more of the detail I can bring to my models.”
My biggest professional challenge so far regarding BIM has been trying to get good experience on real projects. Smaller architectural companies tend to have limited exposure to BIM, so finding people to learn from has been difficult. However, the practice I work at is slowly transitioning more towards BIM and I have some exciting Revit-based projects coming up.
Which technology in BIM and digital construction interests you the most?
A boring answer, but as an architectural technologist what has brought me the most utility is the simple ability to model a building in 3D, to understand complex details and junctions. I’m really interested in this aspect as it’s a big contrast to 2D Autocad. I value the ability to model in 3D and want to explore more of the detail I can bring to my models.
Do your friends and family understand what you do? And if not, how do you explain it to them?
Not really. If anyone asks, I say I’m training to be an architect, which is completely untrue. However, most people have no idea of the other roles in an architecture office, such as an architectural technologist. So, the ‘architect’ generalisation kind of gets an idea in their head about what I do. If I’m describing what I actually do, I normally say I create little 3D models of buildings. Which I think is a pretty good description.
What advice would you give those just starting their study of BIM?
I cannot recommend my path as an apprentice enough. If you are looking to get into the industry, I can’t think of a better way. Nothing compares to experience on live projects. However, as mentioned earlier exposure to BIM is limited in small architecture firms. So, I’d either recommend a BIM specialist role or you can always look to external programmes to boost your knowledge.
For me, the WorldSkills Digital Construction programme has developed my skills massively and I think every person starting out in BIM should give it a go.
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