Newswise — The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Arkansas has donated $30,000 to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to establish a fund to support the Building Information Modeling (BIM) Lab for construction management and engineering students. 

“In the 21st century design workplace, contractors, architects, and engineers increasingly use building information modeling to collaborate over distances using virtual collaboration technology,” said Chancellor Christina Drale. “With generous support from the Associated General Contractors of Arkansas, UA Little Rock now has a state-of-the-art BIM laboratory that will let students experience a global working environment on campus and gain access to a facility that reflects current industry technology.”

UA Little Rock celebrated the donation by renaming the lab the AGC of Arkansas BIM Lab during a dedication ceremony on Feb. 20. The lab, located in the Engineering Applied Technology Applied Sciences (ETAS) building, will help students prepare for careers in the high-tech construction industry.

“AGC has a longtime history with UA Little Rock in many different facets,” said Roger Marlin, immediate past president of AGC Arkansas and CEO of Hydco, Inc. “Last year, going into my presidency, I wanted to make sure we did something that was monumental in the BIM Lab. I really thought this was an area where we could help the university. We’re doing a variety of things to entice people to our industry and to educate them on the job opportunities available in construction. Working with UA Little Rock and supporting the BIM Lab was a great way to support that effort.”

The BIM Lab is located in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering in the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. The fund will be used to provide new technology and equipment for the lab.

“Building Information Management Lab is cutting edge, virtual modeling of buildings and building components,” said Dr. Hollis “Hank” Bray, chair of the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering. “The BIM Lab will assure the construction management students are exposed to state-of-the-art methods for project coordination using visualization tools to solve coordination problems so that projects are finished on time and on budget.”

Renovating the BIM Lab has become a community project for the construction industry in central Arkansas. Several businesses and UA Little Rock alumni have donated materials to renovate the lab. The donors include CertaPro Painters of Central Arkansas, Moix Carpets, and Platinum Drywall.

“I have been around the program for many years and have seen the benefits it offers to students entering into the construction field,” said Blake Finnell of CertaPro Painters. “I have been involved with ASA Crawfish Boil for about 10 years now, and we have been providing a scholarship to UA Little Rock Construction Management program for years. So the program in general was always top of mind. I am now working in the construction business and see the direct benefits of the students coming out of that program into the workforce.”

Marlin believes that investing in the education of construction management and engineering students at UA Little Rock is a great decision. The construction industry in central Arkansas is growing, and AGC Arkansas is committed to attracting quality students to the workforce.

“it’s a great time for students to join the construction industry,” Marlin said. “The job market is going to stay strong for the foreseeable future. It’s a great profession to enter. I think you’ll find that most companies that do what we do are looking to hire good people today. There’s no shortage of job openings, and there’s a lot of opportunities for men and women to get into this field.”

Justin Mitchell, a junior majoring in the civil and construction engineering program, said the skills he is learning in the BIM lab are giving him a head start for his future career.

“The BIM Lab gives us a place to put what we learn in the classroom to work in real life,” Mitchell said. “I work at Terracon Consulting, and we are using the same software that is in the BIM Lab. This is exactly what the industry uses, so they are showing you what you will be using in the real world. It gives you a head start before you even go out and get a job.”