UW Architectural Engineering Program Wins National Award

May 15, 2008

The University of Wyoming's College of Engineering and Applied Science architectural engineering program on Wednesday (May 14) received a national award for its innovative design curriculum facilitated by Building Information Modeling (BIM).

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored UW for its work in the "Academic Program or Curriculum Development" category of the fourth annual BIM Awards. The award was presented to faculty members Keith Hedges and Anthony Denzer in a ceremony at the AIA national convention in Boston.

More than 70,000 AIA members, including more than 135 accredited academic programs, were eligible to compete for the BIM awards.

Rob Ettema, dean of the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science, says, "Architectural engineering is rapidly becoming one of the college's most popular programs. I am pleased that the excellent work of our faculty and students has achieved this esteemed recognition."

UW adopted BIM earlier and more comprehensively than many of its peer institutions, according to an AIA release. Hedges and Denzer are widely published on the topic of BIM in architectural education. Since 2006, they have presented UW student work at more than a dozen national and international venues, including presentations in Vancouver, Venice, Melbourne and London.

BIM is revolutionary because it allows architects, engineers and builders to work together at an earlier stage using a single informational database in the form of a three-dimensional model. Hedges says this method reduces conflicts and allows for more intelligent design decisions due to the collaborative environment.

"Our program is experiencing a cultural shift in how design ideas are communicated," he says. "We are transitioning away from the traditional two-dimensional abstraction techniques to the new paradigm of shared three-dimensional digital representations with BIM. This has dramatically altered the design process where the students readily explore more complex and challenging design opportunities."

Denzer adds, "What it means for UW is that we're now seen as a national leader in the use of this leading-edge methodology. We're always trying to innovate and it's really gratifying to have those efforts recognized by our peers. We began using BIM three years ago and immediately saw the benefits for our students. They're better prepared to compete for the top jobs, because the building industry is changing so rapidly."

UW joins a select group of past winners, including some of the most prestigious names in architecture and engineering. For example, in 2005, Arup Consulting Engineers won for the Beijing National Swimming Centre ("Water Cube") and Morphosis won for the San Francisco Federal Building. In 2006, M.A. Mortenson Company received a BIM award for the Fredric C. Hamilton Building (Denver Art Museum).

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