Associate Professor of Architecture Jason Van Nest, M.Arch., integrated a cost-estimating tool into his curriculum this spring, to help engage students during remote instruction due to COVID-19.
Using the tool helped students study cost estimating as another dimension of inquiry to inform their design efforts. As the software and plugins had a one-month trial, students were able to easily download the program and use it to analyze their construction document models and generate cost estimates using state-of-the-art tools.
Sigma Estimates, the technology provider, featured Van Nest’s efforts in a recent case study, highlighting the learning value of the program and the opportunity it provided for New York Tech architecture students.
“This semester’s experiment was largely a success,” Van Nest shared. “Because we rolled out the trial curriculum as extra-credit projects, the student cohort that engaged the curricula was self-selected, motivated, and eager to push boundaries. We could introduce the workflow to these teams on our own schedule, and I was able to give this smaller group a lot of one-on-one support when they hit issues with exporting, data typing, and price lists.”
Van Nest added that this kind of digital collaboration lends itself well to teamwork. “We were most pleased to see these teams use the assignment as a positive environment where value engineering choices can be considered with real quantitative data, informing immediate design feedback.”
He plans to roll out BIM (Building Information Modeling)-based curriculum using the estimating software in several courses this fall.