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Construction graduate students test new ways of building

December 13, 2010 12:00AM

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Alan Espinoza, a graduate student in Construction Management and Construction Engineering Technologies, demonstrates the digital building project he is presenting for finals.

Any owner whose construction plans went awry will wish their builder had used technology like this.

This semester, construction graduate students working on their master's of engineering technology (MET) degrees at Pittsburg State University have been experimenting with some of the newest technology available to builders. BIM (Building Information Modeling), also known as VDC (Virtual Design and Construction), is the newest software in construction, giving builders an opportunity to see a structure come together digitally before physically laying a single board in place.

This software by Autodesk prepares a structure in 4-D simulation, demonstrating the length, width and height of a building based on the user's dimensions - as well as the projected time it will take for the project to be complete. Next year, the students will experiment with a fifth dimension - cost, which will more accurately project the exact price of the project.

"This allows you to virtually build a building on a computer screen before you even start," said Bill Strenth, a professor in the Department of Construction Management and Construction Engineering Technologies. "The software isn't highly used in industry yet, but we will be seeing it more and more, so it's good our students can be in front of that."

The students will make their final presentations using the software to a group of professors and industry professionals on Monday, Dec. 13. Alan Espinoza, a graduate assistant in the department, said although he was initially reluctant to using the software, he has a completely new respect for it.

"I was worried it would be taking away from the tradesmen," said Espinoza, who worked in residential construction before beginning his graduate program at PSU. "But I quickly saw that it is a smarter, more common sense way of doing things."

Espinoza, one of the students presenting on Monday, demonstrated the software this week by running it through the computerized process of building a Kansas City-area Walgreens. As pieces of the building fly into place - from the foundation to the roof - he discusses the capabilities of the program and how it makes catching mistakes in the pre-construction phase possible.

"The level of detail you can see, it's almost like you're standing in the actual building," Espinoza said. "We're learning as we're doing it, and that's a great way to be educated."

For more information on the technology or next week's presentations, contact Strenth at 620-235-4361.

---Pitt State---

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