OSArch OpenBIM training & certification programme

edited November 8 in General

An idea I have been considering is creating an OSArch training & certification programme.

A problem with the industry is that our BIM data is unstructured. In theory, OpenBIM is the solution to this. In practice, OpenBIM is complicated to understand and hidden from end-users behind vendors. The result is that nobody in the industry is currently even close to producing a truly clean OpenBIM data set of a full medium-to-large scale commercial project. Part of the solution is better tools that expose OpenBIM rather than hiding it behind a ClosedBIM translator. Another part is knowledge sharing so we can all learn this new language together.

Thus, the idea of a training & certification programme.

The rules of the programme shall follow a community first, merit-based approach:

  1. All knowledge is free. Training is done "in the open". We're here to make a better built environment, not run seminars.
  2. Rather than heavily structured programmes, it shall be a tailored, personal approach. Think apprenticeship, not online courses. Those in the OSArch community who are experts in a topic will freely teach and guide what you need.
  3. Doing is more important than talking. Evidence of learning shall be provided by actually accomplishing tasks, like coding new features, fixing bugs, writing tutorials, creating how-to videos, or implementing it on actual built environment projects. There are no exams, only actions.

Yes, existing programmes exist, but they differ in that they are 1) often paid, 2) often textbook driven, and 3) more talk & checkbox, and less doing and achieving.

Other ideas:

  • OpenBIM is only one concept, there can be done around using FOSS software, like Code Aster, FreeCAD, QGIS, etc.
  • A short course on programming with IfcOpenShell has proved quite popular at the company I work at, perhaps that is something worth sharing online?
  • If such a training & certification programme is developed, it could be easily shared into academia and universities willing to teach OpenBIM, and FOSS would become a central aspect of that
  • A training programme also helps encourage people to develop on free software, rather than training provided by commercial vendors, which tend to mask the underlying concepts behind the vendor's tools.
  • these "training streams" can help provide some structure to OSArch, so we can be seen as a technical leader in the industry
  • By people "doing" to achieve certification, this helps increase contributors and the bus factor on FOSS projects.


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  • edited October 26

    A training system focus on FLOSS project contributions could be a very sustainable loop, with benefits for both sides. I mean, what a FLOSS project can exchange for the voluntary work is knowledge, practice, experience and reputation. If you can give a value to that, like a certification, this could be a interesting model for people who are looking how to invest their time..

  • Totally agree that OpenBIM needs more structured material with good implementations/examples of real projects but maybe also covering various cases, like smaller specifically tailored examples of object representation, workflow implementation, etc. I would say also in a friendly format that "attracts" people to learn rather than repel them. For example the documentation in buildingSmart website is technically sound but confusing and repelling for not-so-technical people or whoever does not have a strong development background and developing experience. In that sense, the material on IfcOpenShell is in the correct direction but certainly more is needed, thus the short course you mention could be quite useful I believe.

    For Code_Aster, the efforts I've been making with my colleagues in creating training material with the tutorials and the How-to videos along with the repository with all the related code and input files is in the direction, I hope and believe, of learning through doing and experimenting. I would love to consider a certification programme for engineers, perhaps I could also try to seek some support from the Code_Aster developers at the EDF R&D department, but I am not sure what the format for granting this certification could be, difficult to think about contributing code, it has to be some kind of high-level implementation of the code. Perhaps a series of actions that lead to gaining points towards your certification? Like creating material, helping others, implementing and openly showcasing projects?

  • I'm keenly interested in this @Moult. Happy to participate and also help out where I can in setting it up. How do you see this being set up? A MOOC system that aggregates learning materials for the different subject areas into modules and perhaps a badge / achievement system that adds up to (a) certificate(s)? Open EdX?

  • I would be very interested in a MOOC like course for OpenBIM. Even a youtube channel with regular posts would be valuable I think.

  • We need something like a project incubator to hold onto good ideas and see which ones grow legs ...

  • This is a great initiative....
    I am new in this field of OpenBIM. I am currently undergoing trainings as it relates to python and IFC.. Therefore I am interested if such a training can be offered...

  • That's exactly what I need for myself and to pass on and invite my students. Would be a great initiative.

  • edited November 6

    Sorry for the late response. It is clear that this is a popular idea, so let's make it happen. Right now, there is material on the OSArch wiki, but the issue is that it is largely text-based. This format is not necessarily the most digestible for people, even though it is very good at capturing details - I think we should create some video content.

    For those reading this thread and looking for the wiki content, here are the links to look at (keep in mind there's a lot of info, but not very aesthetically presented - it needs more pictures, tables of contents, etc). It is a wiki, so please browse through and help contribute to the content, or make article suggestions if you'd like us to write about a topic.

    Here are my thoughts on designing an Introduction to IFC Models course. By the end of the course you should:

    1. Brief idea of what is IFC
    2. Know how to open IFC files (requirements: cross-platform, free software - so the only options are BlenderBIM Add-on / FreeCAD, I think)
    3. Know how to look at the element tree to see what's in a model
    4. Know how to navigate the 3D model (walking around, orbiting, zooming to fit)
    5. Know how to filter elements (hiding, isolating, highlighting elements)

    The course should ideally be presented in under 30 minutes. This first course will not dive into the technical details like properties, attributes, schemas, formats, and so on. It'll simply be a more practical course aimed at people who would otherwise not open up IFC models. These could be people who usually only request 2D drawings, managers who aren't on the tools on a project, clients who want to view models, CG artists and similar consultants who want to view models, etc.

    Thoughts? Because in this case I think there are only 2 platforms to achieve this (e.g. XBim is not cross platform, and IfcOpenShell's viewer is kinda technical to setup), maybe two videos should be made, one for the BlenderBIM Add-on and another for FreeCAD (ping @yorik).

  • edited November 7

    I taught IFC basics last year. I made heavy use of Opening Design and Yorik work to get students hands in the sludge. It needs a refresh. I was using XBIMXplorer as viewer which is unfortunately not cross-platform as you said. I don’t know how to replace it yet as Blender BIM has not similar capabilities to dive into IFC data progressively (eg. following ids to understand object placement). Documents also need to be translated (currently in French).
    Link to the documents I used for a 2 hours course.

  • edited November 7

    I love this thread.

    For anyone interested in the topic of designing a curriculum/programme check out https://cgcookie.com/articles/why-your-classroom-needs-blender and see if you can grab a copy of their free curriculum for inspiration.

  • @Cyril you make a good point, and XBim at the moment is a little unreplacable as it has a special capability to "dive" progressively into the IFC data. I've started re-creating its functionality (see commit) in the BlenderBIM Add-on. It won't match the speed of XBim (after all, Blender is a full authoring environment), but with a bit more work, I think it'll match all of the features.

    Still to-do: breadcrumb support, inspecting based on selected object, better listing of sets in attributes (XBim splits them up into different rows).

  • As of this commit, breadcrumb, inspecting a selected object, and attribute sets are now supported. I think it is now capable of everything that XBim can do, so it is now a viable teaching tool.

  • Nice. You even thought of the back arrow.

  • Just a bump that no progress has been made on this. However, @condur and I have planned to start releasing weekly videos teaching this stuff in a super casual way. The "concept" is that @condur is a beginner to IFC, and we'll have a short 20 minute chat each week, introducing simple concepts one by one about OpenBIM, IFC, each time only using free software tools. It'll be an informal chat, with him asking questions about things that he doesn't understand. In the future, we plan to livestream this too so that an audience can join in.

    I think it achieves a similar thing, without the overhead of trying to organise a structured course, and may well attract more casual viewers instead of people who collect certificates.

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  • Hey I was one of the people that developed the Blender educator certification back in 2008. I also work in a university and have experience in designing curricula. One of the things I want to do is develop a curriculum on Open Source using mainly Blender and FreeCAD for architecture and Architectural Technology students. It is really difficult for me to do so this month, but I can certainly devote more time in December. The idea would be to write a structured curriculum that can also be a guide for others, then develop as series of videos that other s can contribute to. I 'll try and make a start on writing a curriculum for Blender for architecture and post here for critique, along with a break down of videos/materials needed.

  • @ar_lav that sounds great. I'm sure several people would like to cooperate. It would be great if it could be done in a branding neutral way so anyone can include parts of it in their own curricula. I want to put together a couple of short sessions also for an architecture school here in Denmark. But I have neither the time nor the skills at the moment.

  • @condur has helped release a couple videos now on his channel:

    We'll be trying out our first livestream on Monday :) https://www.linkedin.com/events/ifcclasseswithdionmoult6737422330793922560/

    @ar_lav would love to help contribute! Please share what you've got :)

  • @Moult said:
    Just a bump that no progress has been made on this. However, @condur and I have planned to start releasing weekly videos teaching this stuff in a super casual way. The "concept" is that @condur is a beginner to IFC, and we'll have a short 20 minute chat each week, introducing simple concepts one by one about OpenBIM, IFC, each time only using free software tools. It'll be an informal chat, with him asking questions about things that he doesn't understand. In the future, we plan to livestream this too so that an audience can join in.

    I think it achieves a similar thing, without the overhead of trying to organise a structured course, and may well attract more casual viewers instead of people who collect certificates.

    Oh @Moult . There is no need for quotes for the word concept, that is really true, I don't have any clue what how IFC works leaving aside that is the open BIM file format :)

  • @ar_lav and @duncan I would definitely want to help. @duncan can you please define what you mean by brand neutral?

  • edited November 28

    @condur and @Moult , nice work, I've added it to the OpenBIM page.

    @condur asked about the origins of OpenBIM, according to https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Open_BIM it was Tekla and Graphisoft. This would be no surprise as Tekla, ArchiCAD and Solibri have been key in pushing BIM to be open - it's critical to their strategy in the market that vendors open their data to each other. Tekla & Solibri are also the two firms behind the original BCF format.

    @condur you asked what I mean by branding neutral is just that logo and branding are not so prominent that it discourages colleges and universities including it in their course material.

  • @duncan how do you see BIMvoice? How much did you understand of my mission so far? :)

  • edited November 28

    @condur i've heard a few of your podcasts a while back, I only know what is written here: https://bimvoice.podbean.com/

    You made a comment in the podcast about finding related IFC pages. I've created a new banner for all pages documenting IFC which should make it easier. The wiki relies heavily on categories to keep related pages together. https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=Industry_Foundation_Classes_(IFC)

  • this is an initiative candle, here in Brazil this subject is not very widespread. I'm learning a lot from this community, I'm already venturing to create scripts to interact with ifc files in Blender! Thank's guys!

  • I've tried to collect a few of the things we've discussed on a page. Please help keep it up to date with evolving ideas, resources and suggestions. https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=OSArch_Curriculum

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