July 31, 2009

Architecture Students Get Immersed in Revit Boot Camp

by Russell Boniface
Associate Editor

How do you . . . hold a 3D virtual design workshop for young architects at no cost to your firm?

Summary: Chicago-based firm StudioGC Architecture + Interiors hosted in June a summer “boot camp” for eight University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) architecture students for intensive training in the 3D BIM platform Revit®. The month-long, hands-on workshop was instituted by the firm in lieu of summer internships.


Boot Camp participants: Back Row (L-R): Danny Martin, Kim Wiskup, Jacob Oostema, Fadi Salem, Christiana Symeonides. Front Row (L-R): Christina Collet, Maria Nikolovski; Caroline VanAcker.

StudioGC uses Revit to design schools, village halls, police stations, and libraries. Last winter, StudioGC founder Michael Gilfillan, AIA, and firm partner Patrick Callahan, AIA, approached UIUC School of Architecture Director David Chasco, AIA, and Assistant Professor Carl Lewis with the idea for an advanced, one-month Revit immersion workshop or boot camp. The Revit immersion would be led by BIM experts in 3D virtual design.

“As we prepared for this year’s UIUC job fair, we knew that we had neither jobs nor internships to offer,” explains Gilfillan. So Gilfillan and Callahan, both UIUC alumni, suggested the Revit immersion workshop.

“We owe this to the next generation of architects,” says Gilfillan, who believes architects will eventually use Revit technology exclusively to design buildings. StudioGC used funding available from the Illinois Cooperative Work Study Program and asked Autodesk, manufacturer of Revit, to come on board. Autodesk provided books, training manuals, and trainers.

The architects of tomorrow
The eight University of Illinois architecture students immersed themselves in the workshop. The boot camp was led by StudioGC Design Director Scott Delano, a Revit expert and former University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee architectural instructor. Delano and other “drill” instructors led students in assignments that included creating design templates and a Revit database of standard components.

The eight UIUC students hail from the Chicago-area where StudioGC is based. They are: Christina Collet, graduate student; Daniel Martin, senior; Maria Nikolovski, junior; Jacob Oostema, junior; Fadi Salem, senior; Christiana Symeonides, graduate student; Caroline VanAcker, junior; and Kimberly Wiskup, graduate student.

“We’re learning aspects of architecture that they don’t teach in school—like cost estimating and assembling construction documents,” says Wiskup. Adds VanAcker: “I wish I would have known how to model everything in Revit about five months ago.”

“You learn a lot here at boot camp that you wouldn’t otherwise pickup by just experimenting on your own,” says Martin. “Normally, we wouldn’t be exposed to tasks like building work sets and scheduling.” Martin administered a daily camp blog about the group’s experience.

As part of their boot camp contract, the students agreed to perform 10 hours of community service at the Chicago-based Active Transportation Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group. They worked the telephones and stuffed envelopes. Says Oostema: “I’m feeling pretty confident that I can now design an entire building in Revit. And that alone is worth the price of admission.”


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Read more about the Revit boot camp at StudioGC Architecture + Interiors.