The Engineering Of BIM


 by Brett Young

One of the most important concepts that I learned in college was a very specific definition of the word “engineering.” I don’t remember exactly where I first heard this definition, but I seem to recall it was an offhand remark made about the profession by a seminar lecturer. I like it because it is simple yet comprehensive in how it can be applied. Here is my definition of engineering:

Engineering is the use of math, science, and technology to optimize a solution to a problem.

There is a tool set that we use – math, science, and technology – to solve a problem in an optimized way. The focus is on a solution and the tool set makes it the best solution.

This definition works with all types of engineering. Geotechnical engineering is the optimization of soil stability and foundation structures. Structural engineering optimizes material, cost, and performance. Financial engineering optimizes risk against financial benefit. Traffic engineering optimizes safety and utility against cost. Regardless of the specific engineering subgenre, this definition applies.

For many problems, there are solutions that can be found that don’t use math, science, or technology. For example, “throwing money at the problem” isn’t an engineering approach, even though it does get to a solution. The essence of engineering is the use of a tool set to achieve optimization.


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