BIM, Visualization, and VR, Oh My! Aligning Professional Technologies with Academic Rigor by Implementing BIM and Virtual Reality into a Lower Level D

Presented by: Lyndsey Miller

Beginning in the 18th century, the world experienced the first industrial revolution, where the impacts of steam, water, and mechanical production equipment changed the overall processes of industry. By the late 19th century, a second industrial revolution expounded on the first by using electricity to pioneer mass production. In contrasting forms, the third industrial revolution, beginning in the mid-twentieth century, relied heavily on digital and computational medium, leading to more automated processes. Now, in 2016, as described by Klaus Schwab, of the World Economic Forum, “we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.” Furthermore, he states, “the speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent.” The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and it is marked by the fusion of physical, digital, and biological worlds and will likely effect all forms of industry. Terms such as augmented reality, additive processing, virtual reality, and the like are rapidly encroaching on our daily vocabularies. This is and will continue to have a tremendous impact on students seeking interior design degrees. They will no longer be able to rest on the specific knowledge being attained in courses. Rather, they must be enthusiastic about constantly learning new things, flexible in the tools used to complete a task, and motivated to shift with the rapidly changing technologies that will support their future professions, all while investing in collaborative efforts both globally and across disciplines. This presentation will discuss results from an interdisciplinary project with lower level design and construction students in a course that focuses on BIM and related software. At the start of the 2.5 week project, interdisciplinary teams of between 5-7 students were formed. Each team was tasked with researching a technology related Kickstarter campaign for which they would collectively develop the design for a starter office, located in a larger business incubator. Each team presented their research to the class. The next stage was to develop design and construction components using Autodesk Revit and Navisworks, Microsoft Project, and Assemble Systems. The final output included a variety of technical drawings, simulations, and data. Each group was also tasked with producing three visual representations of their design, including a perspective computer-generated rendering for viewing using traditional medium, a panoramic rendering for viewing on a computer screen, and a stereo-panoramic rendering for viewing using virtual reality headsets. On the final day of class, each student was issued a different form of consumer-based virtual reality equipment that each was able to keep. They then circulated the studio, evaluating other teams’ projects and writing an assessment of the experience using the 3 varying forms of media. In this project, students were charged with overcoming situations that will undoubtedly affect them in their professional careers. It required that they invest in the technology, be flexible with its implementation, and be ready to shift from one tool to the next all while using the technology to communicate within interdisciplinary teams. Using the software and hardware as a platform, student communications were streamlined. The project encouraged collaborative information pursuits in order to engage the variety of technologies being implemented for the final project assessment. Students will inevitably be faced with the ‘digital skills gap’ over time, an issue that is currently costing the U.S. economy roughly $1 trillion a year in lost productivity. However, by equipping them with the skills to engage technology, without fear, in a fast and efficient way, they will continue to be sought after employees in this ever-changing, unpredictably evolving global society.


  • Schwab, K. (2015, December 12). The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from:
  • Fernandez, J. (2014, July 7). How the ‘Digital Skills Gap’ Bleeds $1.3 Trillion a Year from US Businesses. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from:
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