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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shortage of Engineers or a Glut: No Simple Answer ~ The death of #BIM

Jay Z, this one's for you to show your staff.

OK, here's the deal. There's an article that came out today about a shortage of engineers. Let's couple that with the fact that I took the red-eye home from AU and slept about an hour on the plane. There's a 3 hour time delay, so I'm pretty let-jagged and as I'm reading this article, some thoughts pop into my mind.

I hope you're prepared for the following thoughts from Gregory's warped BIM brain. Revit is easy. BIM is hard. I'll refer to conversations with Joseph Joseph and Jay Zallan for those facts. I have good news and I have bad news. I have a client desperate for a Revit MEP designer or modeler or engineer in Fort Lauderdale. I've been trying for a month to find him someone. I'm having no luck. What does that mean? You're all screwed. Because you've all waited and poo pooed Revit, you've been sitting on your asses during the recession and haven't bothered to start learning Revit and the BIM workflow and process.

After sitting in on Joseph Joseph's class on the BIM RFP, it occurred to me that you all have so much to learn. It doesn't even matter if you've been using Revit for one, two or three years, there is so much more to BIM than just learning Revit. The worst part, the number of people needed to work in this new BIM world is going to be much greater than the number of people out there. CAD operators are not a part of this world. We're going to need architects, engineers and people with experience in construction, how buildings go together, scheduling, visualization, energy modeling and so much more. The speed at which BIM is being adopted in the construction industry means that a lot of BIM experts are going to go into the construction industry and make a lot more money, leaving a huger hole in the A/E industry than there already is from the recession.

It gets worse. You're going to have to hire more expensive workers. That's going to make your fees higher. You're going to have to be more efficient with your resources and staff. That's going to mean you're going to have to move to Revit. That means you're going to have to pay for training and implementation. That means you're going to have to change from treating your reseller transactionally to a real relationship. Your reseller is going to have a backlog of training because they'll be busy with contractors and owners with BIM training. You'll have to pay more for training to get expedited training when that owner tells you that you have to do that next project using Revit.

Do you believe any of this? Can you afford to not think about it? I met a woman at a class at AU. She has 6,000 people in her firm. How long do you think it will take her to implement BIM firm wide. One of the reasons I attend AU every year is for networking and the conversations. Doug Williams, Phil Read, Phil Bernstein, Joseph Joseph, Jay Zallan, Zack Creach, James McKenzie are just a few of the people I got to converse with that are the brilliant minds of the BIM generation. There were so many other people that I got a chance to meet and they're all on their way to becoming BIMwits.

I think there is going to be serious problem with having the brain power to adopt BIM throughout the entire industry. I didn't even factor in the skills necessary for things like sustainable and evidence based design or what those crazy kids do with Navisworks and clash detection, timelining and visualization.

All of these thoughts came from what I saw in the article below. We have a serious problem folks and the duality of some software vendors touting both the virtues of 2D and 3D at the same time are not helping to show you why you need to make this decision, not based on the software, but on the workflow and process changes that you're going to need. It's not that AutoCAD and Revit are so different, which they are, it's about how the programs are used in such different ways to design buildings. I hope this gives you something to think about. I hope it scares the crap out of you and panics you so you can't sleep tonight, and that's if you're already using Revit. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Call all of your engineers Monday morning and tell them to stop whining and start learning Revit. It's enough with all of the BS about how everyone only designs in 2D. Get serious about your business and your BIMness. If I've offended you with the post, good. Someone had to tell you the truth.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/04/shortage-of-engineers-or-a-glut-no-simple-answer
There is clearly a mismatch between need and skill availability. There are other problems also:

  • Many engineering graduates aren’t becoming engineers or joining startups, as UC-Berkeley engineering masters student Rahul Barwani noted. Most of Rahul’s classmates became management consultants or took other non-engineering jobs. That’s because they received higher salaries than what engineering firms or startups offer.
  • Startups don’t hire students fresh out of college because they can’t afford to train them. As Robert Shedd, CTO of Three Screen Games, explains, startups need people who can hit the ground running. And that is why college graduates in places like Tampa, Florida can’t get jobs, as IT consultant Roy Lawson observes.
  • American companies don’t invest in training their workforce any more like they used to. They expect workers to have all the right skills.
  • Nearly 60% of U.S. engineering post-graduate degrees and 40% of graduate degrees are awarded to foreign nationals. In the past, most of these students would remain in the U.S. after graduation and eventually become U.S. citizens. Now, because of flawed U.S. immigration policies, most buy one-way tickets home.
  • The world’s best and brightest aren’t beating a path to the U.S. any more. In previous years, H-1B visas for foreign nationals were in such high demand that they had to be awarded by lottery. This year, the annual quota of 65,000 hasn’t even been used yet. Instead, these workers are staying home and entrepreneurship is booming in countries like India and China.
So there are many issues here. But the national debates about competitiveness, immigration, and education, typically focus on the issue of supply and demand of engineers and scientists. They paint this issue in black or white when it is shades of gray.
On December 7, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is releasing a detailed report which analyzes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and worker shortages from a historical perspective. It finds that the standard indicators of salary growth and unemployment rates are not the best metrics for assessing shortages. The authors of the report say it is better to measure the length of time it takes for companies to hire STEM workers; analyze global job growth in a given sector; and compare the U.S. position in the global job market to other countries. They prescribe more skilled immigration and greater investments in the education and skills of American-born workers.
Continue reading the article: Shortage of Engineers or a Glut: No Simple Answer


Bram December 5, 2010 at 5:43 AM  

Didn't read the whole bit (just about the first half). But I gotta say, we did use the recession to invest in our workmethod due to the considerable downtime of our staff.
We've adopted Revit some five years ago, and I've been involved since 2007.
BIM has been on our agenda since late 2008. And our BIM philosophy is to keep it open for people who're still working the old way, but also for new technology. Keep an close eye on it, investigate what workd, and try to operate on the cutting edge without losing the purpose of Revit, BIM and ofcourse the way we make our products.

-Bram Weinreder, Software/BIM coördinator for a small contractor (about 400 houses a year)

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