Richard O’Donovan, Certificate in BIM and Lean Construction Management (Online)

Can you tell us your name, job title and the course you studied at IT Sligo?

Name: Richard O’Donovan

Job Title: Chartered Civil/Structural Engineer

Course: Certificate in BIM and Lean Construction Management (Online)

Can you share your career path to date?

I graduated in 2012 with a BEng(Hons) Structural Engineering. Following a brief role as a Geographic Information Systems Developer, I worked as civil/structural engineer in a small to medium sized consultancy in the east of England. I am currently working as a Chartered Civil/Structural Engineer for a private consultancy firm in Dublin.

What motivated you to start studying?

At that time I was completing my undergraduate degree, there was no module covering the topics of Building Information Modelling (BIM) or Lean Construction. These topics are relatively new to the construction industry, having really taken off in the last decade. I see a real need to upskill in the areas of BIM & Lean Construction as the industry is evolving. In order to stay competitive, Engineers need to have a good grasp of emerging technology.

For the last 2 years I have been keeping an eye on the Springboard programmes. I knew I wanted to upskill in order to put myself in a good position for career progression opportunities. I was keen to take a course that was flexible, as I am working full-time and I wanted to study something that would be of use to me in my day to day activities.

Why did you choose this course from ATU Sligo?

There were 2 main reasons for picking ATU Sligo. Looking at Springboard options, ATU Sligo offered the largest number of programmes using online delivery. This gave me the confidence in the university.

The second reason was the programme itself. The content is extremely relevant to my industry and whilst I graduate with a Higher Certificate, the qualification is embedded into ATU Sligo’s Masters in Project Management, meaning I now have a progression path into earning a Masters. With 90% funding for the Higher Certificate via Springboard, I have 1 year of the 3 years Masters programme completed.

How did you find the process of studying online? What elements did you find helpful? Were there elements you found challenging?

Studying online has been a very good experience. The flexibility it offers is ideal when working full-time. I have 3 lectures per week – two on Tuesdays and one on a Wednesday. I usually watch the lectures live as it allows for engagement. However sometimes due to work related projects, I cannot attend the live lectures and it is very easy to catch up as the lectures are recorded.

There are online forums available, but I have found that the WhatsApp groups we have created is a great way to encourage group learning. One of the group members will post up a query and we can all send in feedback and everyone gets something from it. There is a real diversity in the group in terms of nationalities, cultures and industries, so I really benefit from those interactions.

In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?

Yes, my employer has been very supportive. Colleagues with industry experience in BIM have been a big help and my directors as always have been engaging with any queries I have had. They are keen that I develop my industry skills so that I can progress my career and bring further knowledge to the company.

In what way has studying online with ATU Sligo benefitted your career?

Lean processes are now a priority for all our clients. Whether I am in the office or out on a client site, I am very aware of following and implementing processes that minimise waste. Prior to starting this Certificate, I had no real knowledge of BIM and now I can talk confidently about it when attending meetings. I now have a practical understanding of BIM standards and how they feed in to BIM documentation produced on a project. The practical application of my learnings on this course is very beneficial.

Would you have any advice for those considering studying this programme with ATU Sligo Online?

 The best advice I can give is to apply for a 1-year Higher Certificate that is embedded in a Degree or Masters qualification. It gives you the opportunity to test the online learning mechanisms while building up your qualifications. Secondly, the course is best suited to those who have practical industry experience and are looking to upskill in construction project management. The assignments are very manageable and relatable as they merge both theory and practical experience.