BILT’ing Communities – The Portuguese Tale

No matter where you come from, what field you work in, what career stage you’re at or your level of expertise, you are always looking for inspiration. You may try to find it on a Ted talk, a webinar, an article or a book, but what will really drive you to push the boundaries, is connecting with people by being a part of a community.

ISEPBIM found that inspiration, with BILT Europe (RTC Europe at the time), to go the extra mile on promoting BIM within the Portuguese industry in 2016, and I can assure you, those moments will live in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives!

ISEPBIM is a local organisation from Porto, Portugal that was founded to connect people who were interested in BIM and on the use of technology in the construction industry. These were mainly engineers, like me, and former students from the Polytechnic Institute of Engineering of Porto (ISEP-IPP). We were giving our first steps using BIM Technologies professionally, being a part of the changing process that our companies were going through. We were all looking for a group to share our thoughts and knowledge and learn with each other. It started as that, but soon became much more. We had to use that drive and will, to take a step further, and we saw the connection with the academia as the natural path to create a two-way bridge between new ideas and matured ones, research and daily use, new roles and traditional ones. Embracing students, professionals, and professors in the same community as equals, creates an environment where we are all working together for a better industry from very different angles, filling each other’s gaps and looking towards the future.

Portugal had a globally low BIM maturity level, though with some exceptions from companies that always saw BIM as a way to support valuable engineering and architecture. The main reason this was happening, was the lack of interest and information from the public institutions and from some firms that just weren’t aware of it and saw sharing as a way to lose leverage, instead of a way to grow together. ISEPBIM wanted to help on changing that, but we could only do so much. We needed a push, and when we found out RTC Europe was coming to Porto, we knew it was the perfect opportunity.

At first, we were a bit afraid. We thought they would be kind of unreachable and that the RTC committee would see us as a waste of time and that Porto was just a beautiful venue for an event. We couldn’t be more wrong, and soon we found out we were among family.

From day one, the RTC committee was thrilled with the idea of creating a “BIM Year in Portugal” movement. They didn’t come to Portugal just to have an event. They came to build a community, to get closer to a new group of peers and to help change minds. ISEPBIM was fortunate enough to be a partner on this journey and despite all the hard work and sleepless nights, we had a blast!

With the outstanding help of Silvia Taurer, Wesley Benn, Harriett Cottam and Martin Taurer, we were able to hold a one-day conference called “BIM Trends and Innovation” (BIMTI 2016). For 5€ per registration, it was affordable to everyone, and we had remarkable speakers such as Wesley Benn, Emmanuel Di Giacomo, and Professor António Aguiar Costa. Not only did this result in a full auditorium of 200 attendees, it also ended with a draw for a Golden Ticket for RTC Europe!

This wasn’t all. We also thought about those guys who just couldn’t go to RTC, but were excited by all the movement, wanted to be a part of it somehow and wanted to learn from the best. What better way to do that, than by adding to RTC Europe and BCS Europe, a 3-day BIM Fast Track Courses event (FTC 2016) and having a whole BIM week at Porto? And that’s what happened, with speakers that had never presented classes in Portugal and were idols to many, like Adam Sheather, Jeremy Tammik, and Martin Taurer. We cannot forget our own experts, Rui Campos, Décio Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Joel Soares. The students’ enthusiasm was priceless. We had engineers and architects that had never worked in Revit, doing Navisworks, Dynamo and Revit API.

The end result of all of this was outstanding. It brought the interest of television channels and magazines. And best of all, it brought people and companies together, working deeper alongside with the academia to develop BIM workflows and tools.

It is also good to know that the eagerness to learn remains, as we kept being asked when the next event would be. I am happy to say we have great news for those who asked, because we are having our BIMTI 2017 conference in 11th October, with the support of our good friends from BILT Europe, and with a very diverse and highly knowledgeable set of speakers, like Christopher Groome [Building Smart International], Júlio Borja [Modelical], Tony Woods [Midland Steel] and Dr. David Martinez [FMHOUSE].

This blog is to thank BILT’s work and is an acknowledgment that BILT is not only responsible for events where you are guaranteed to be updated on the latest technologies, workflows, technologies and learn from the top practitioners, but is also focused on building communities and helping the industry grow.

This will be an ongoing project bolstered by the partnership with the BIMAarhus group and BILT Europe. Aarhus will be breathing BIM in every corner, with several initiatives, and ending with the BILT Europe conference, where the BIMAarhus students will showcase their work. If you want to excel at your work, get inspired and take that extra step, come join us in Aarhus and be a part of this big BIM community!

Thank you BILT and see you in Aarhus!

-Rui Gavina, BILT Europe Committee and ISEPBIM

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