BIMmersion course geared to educate the whole employee

Classes from word processing, theory to AutoCAD, Revit offered in six-week course

FAIRFAX, Va. – It’s not often people ask to be told when they are wrong about something, even though it’s necessary. Michael Keane, director of building information modeling technologies for the International Training Institute (ITI), did just that when he went to large contractors who regularly participate in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and asked them what training, information or support the ITI was missing.

The ITI, the education arm for the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry, provides trade-specific training including training on BIM software to apprentices and journeymen who are members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union (SMART).

“I started writing down whatever they said,” said Keane of his first meetings with company owners or company BIM personnel. “They opened up and they unleashed. They weren’t going to hurt my feelings. They were very constructive meetings.”

The information gathered during the exchange was turned into the BIMmersion course, which includes immersion training in everything from Microsoft Office and professional skills to Revit, Navisworks and AutoCAD. The classes are split between White Bear Lake, Minn. and Fairfield, Calif. over six weeks in July, August, September and October. The training is free, although attendees pay for their own travel, accommodations and transportation.

The courses are each limited to 15 students, and each is flexible, depending on individual training needs. The course is designed to provide a full training experience over the entire six weeks; however, each class can be taken on its own or as part of a single week, Keane said.

Week one, from July 28 to Aug. 2, will cover technical skills while week two, from Aug. 4-8 will discuss BIM theory, professional skills and Microsoft Office. During week three, from Aug. 11-15, fabrication and drafting software will be taught with week four, from Sept. 15- 20, covering Revit and Navisworks. The study of Cobie, SMACNA and mechanical, electrical and plumbing codes will take place during week five, from Sept. 22-26, and the classes will wrap with advanced AutoCAD, Total Station, Autodesk and Abode workshops from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3. A complete list of classes and descriptions can be found in the Training Catalog on the ITI’s website (an account with the ITI is required).

Weeks one, three, four and six will take place at Sheet Metal Workers Local 10 training center in White Bear Lake, Minn. with weeks two and five at the new Local 104 training center in Fairfield, Calif.

While some of the classes are more advanced, other classes are meant to help each student become a better-rounded employee. Also, for older workers who never received specific software training, it’s a chance to improve their marketability.

“The old paradigms don’t fit anymore,” Keane said.  “It will help them understand how the construction industry has changed and how they can change with it.

The overall goal is to make the members good employees, not just good sheet metal workers.

“We want our members trained in it, so they know what to do when they are presented with the opportunity,” said Ron McGuire, ITI BIM coordinator. “It’s all about training our members.”

More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at 160 training facilities in the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (formerly the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout the United States and Canada. Located in Fairfax, Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

For more information about ITI, visit or call 703-739-7200.

Abode, AIR, AutoCAD, Autodesk, BIM software, BIM theory, BIMmersion course, Cobie, codes, education arm for the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry, fabrication and drafting software, Michael Keane, Navisworks, Rail and Transportation Workers union (SMART), Revit, sheet metal, technical skills, Total Station
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