The University of Westminster ran the week long Project Intermission, in partnership with industry mentors.

Students from various built environment disciplines worked collaboratively on a ‘real’ project for a ‘real’ client, with input from industry practitioners, using cutting-edge Building Information Modelling (BIM) technologies. From this project, construction student Kevin Hernandez secured a work placement with construction company AECOM. Project Intermission has also been shortlisted for a CIOB International Innovation and Research Award 2013, in the Innovation in Education & Training Award category. This award recognises outstanding contribution to education and training in the built environment.

BIM technologies enable the creation of a building/facility to be modelled in a common data environment. Different disciplines working collaboratively are able to prototype the design prior to production, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of construction projects. BIM is imposing changes on the construction industry and hence construction companies are interested in graduates that have experience in BIM technologies and experience in a BIM working environment. Westminster has launched a new Building Information Management MSc (running from September 2014) to equip students with skills needed to succeed in this changing construction environment.

Project Intermission ran in partnership with industry mentors DMA Architects, Studio Klaschka and Gardiner & Theobald. Student groups designed a gym in Westminster’s Marylebone Campus, utilising BIM throughout the design process. Each group had a representative from architecture, construction management, quantity surveying and architectural technology, and were supported by a Project Manager from the University’s Estates Department, and both an architectural practice and quantity surveying practice mentor. The goal of the project was to provide experience for the students and industry partners, of a genuinely collaborative project involving design, cost planning and project planning.

Kevin Hernandez, a third year Westminster construction undergraduate comments: “Because of the experience I gained from Project Intermission, I feel that I have more knowledge and experience compared to my classmates, as our modules are now BIM related. Also I feel better prepared for the industry as I experienced what it was like to work with professionals.”

Upon completing Project Intermission, Kevin secured a job placement with one of the mentors, AECOM, who were impressed by his skills. “The whole experience with Project Intermission” – concludes Kevin – “was exciting as we got work in an environment which 95 per cent of professionals within the industry have never even experienced”.

Philip Hynard, Director at AECOM, commented on the event: “Having participated in Project Intermission it was extremely heartening to observe the professional growth that all of the student participants made, both technically and in terms of their business sense, during the course of the scheme. In particular their escalating appreciation of the way in which one needs to respond to and support a project and a client in achieving their ambitions.

“We were hugely impressed with the general standard of the students and this was borne out by one individual who subsequently spent a two-week internship with us and demonstrated a sound professional knowledge and purposeful application.”

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