VT Students Gain Experience in Virtual Construction

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This past fall semester, five undergraduate and graduate students in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech worked with Hourigan Constructionon the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center project in Virginia Beach, VA. The students had the opportunity to compare the utility of virtual construction management to traditional methods—giving them real-word experience with Building Information Modeling (BIM) software.

Learning about virtual construction

The Virginia Tech students worked alongside Hourigan to analyze various construction elements including construction model coordination with project’s subcontractors, clash detection, quality control and conformance, safety and schedule adherence. By using virtual construction, the students discovered the various obstacles associated with virtual construction and how it can be used to solve problems during the construction phase in real-time.

Students’ tasks and responsibilities

As part of the student’s involvement, they participated in the weekly coordination meetings and immersed themselves into the details of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.  They were tasked with leading a coordination meeting and identifying issues related to the mechanical loft spaces in the construction model.

By pointing out conflicts with geothermal piping, photovoltaic inverter placement, and composter exhaust pumps, the subcontractors and students worked through crucial layout details related to a complex space.   The entire team’s involvement has helped to develop a construction model that supports a multitude of systems that is currently in use in the trailer and in the field.

On-site quality control

They performed on-site quality control inspections for the elevated cast in place concrete deck and compared the inspection to the 3D BIM model and specification requirements.  The students then made recommendations for items that needed correction prior to concrete placement.  This activity allowed them to acquire actual on site, real time experience using the BIM technology to provide quality control for the project.

About the Brock Environmental Center

The Brock Environmental Center will be a 10,000-square-foot educational facility that is targeting LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certifications. The facility will be designed to achieve net-zero energy consumption and will serve as a model for future sustainable buildings.


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