The Tekla Student Design Challenge is an interactive competition where teams of students compete to secure a bid for a construction project.  Teams need to cost the project, model & detail the structural frame based off the architectural model, provide a schedule for the project, prepare construction drawings, and present their final bid results to a panel of judges.  

To read more about Tekla Student Design Challenge, click here.

On May 10, 2016, four teams took part in the student challenge at the Institute of Technical Education in Singapore.   The teams competed against each other to secure a bid on a project to build a new exhibit hall at their school.   Throughout the day, the teams tackled challenges that face our building and construction industry, like communication, collaboration & information management. They also had to find potential design problems, clashes, and constructability issues.  

Learning the difficulties of calculating based on 2D drawings

Initially, the students were given a set of 2D architectural drawings and asked to create a quantity take-off using traditional methods of counting or even highlighting the 2D drawings.  Upon discovery, each team provided differing amounts and therefore costs.  A good test of the inaccuracies industry faces when dealing with the same task. These methods proved capable of affecting the bid process.  What if you counted too many doors, what about not enough.  You could perhaps bid the project to high or too low or be left with too little material.    

“We wanted to show them the trouble the industry faces with manual processes, and have them go through the meticulous task of manually collecting these totals from the 2D drawings.  An activity that industry is still doing to this day,” said Michael Evans, Director of Education for Trimble.  “We walk them through numerous activities from the manual process to using the tools to pull quantities, we also dive into lessons surrounding structural engineering, detailing the model to include connections, and have them consider how they plan to build the structure,” continued Michael Evans.  

The goal of the challenge was to share the challenges facing our building and construction industry, and how some of the tools like Trimble’s products are here to help.

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The power of the tools

The next stage of the project, introduced them to the power of the tools.  Students were asked to open the architectural model as a reference file within Tekla Structures and collect the totals again.   

With only a 2 hour introduction and little instruction on the software interface, students accessed the model organizer with Tekla Structures and began collecting their totals.  This time collecting the quantities with ease and accuracy.  Each team sharing the same results.  

Modeling Multiple Materials

Throughout the competition, students were introduced to construction methods and materials, and were asked the question, “How would you build this structure?” Would you use Precast concrete, steel, cast-in-place concrete , or timber? All considering location, ease of access of the materials, time of construction, and cost.  Really immersing students into the many challenges facing our builders.  What about weather, what about site restrictions.   After a brief introduction, students began the modeling phase, all modeling and detailing their structure based off the parameters they selected.  

At each stage the students compared their quantity take-off from the previous stage, moving from 2D drawings to model, then adding in the structural frame, then adding detailed connections to their structure.  Ultimately concluding with a total cost for the project, a schedule for how long it would take and any design issues they found during the process.  

This initial event proved to be successful, as the students were engaged throughout the challenge and learned a lot about the challenges facing the industry.   Trimble plans to roll out more of these challenges within other schools worldwide.  The Tekla Student Design Challenge can be modified to fit multiple levels of study and can be presented as either a 1 day, 2 day or 3 day event.    Want to host this event at your school.  Click on the Sign-up button to have a member of our team contact you.