The acronym “BIM” — which stands for building information modeling — might be easy to pronounce, but the knowledge required to master this ever-evolving construction process technology is anything but simple. To help quantify an individual’s level of BIM proficiency, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) now offers the Certificate of Management–Building Information Modeling (CM-BIM), the first assessment-based credential to recognize construction professionals on their ability to apply the technology. Darin Marsden, the BIM/CAD manager for Menasha, Wis.-based electrical contractor Faith Technologies, is one of the few people in the country who has thus far received this accreditation.

A 19-year veteran of the company, Marsden initially enrolled in the AGC BIM Education Program two years ago.

“The program is offered locally across the United States and requires participants to complete four courses,” he explains. “The classes include: Introduction to BIM; BIM Technology; BIM Contract Negotiation and Risk Allocation; and BIM Process, Adoption, and Integration.”

At first, Marsden says he felt skeptical about some of the course content, believing it wasn’t relative to his job and that he would never have an opportunity to use it.

“The classes are taught from a general contractor standpoint,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’m an electrical subcontractor, why do I need to know in-depth tools used by the architectural engineers? They don’t pertain to my day-to-day work.’ I couldn’t have been more wrong. I interact with people from these trades every day, so understanding the software, tools, and methodologies they use helps me better perform the work I’m doing. It also makes the construction process smoother for everyone involved.”

The BIM Contract Negotiation and Risk Allocation course was another class that pertained to things Marsden didn’t see on a day-to-day basis. As the class went on, he realized he was mistaken.

“This class is really interesting,” he notes. “I now know there are certain things I can do or see or get written into a contract that can help protect our company and customers from legal ramifications. It covers issues such as best practices for integrating BIM use into project contracts, standard of care, intellectual property rights, and insurance and surety bonding coverage.”

Because Marsden was one of the first participants in the AGC BIM Education Program, he didn’t find out until the third course that he would be required to pass a test to receive certification.

“Keep in mind I took each of the classes approximately six months apart from each other, so it was two years from the time I took the first course until the time I took the test,” he says. “I had to bone up on some of the subjects taught in the earlier classes before I felt ready to take the exam. And I won’t lie — the test was difficult.”

Of the more than 3,800 professionals across the country who have entered the association’s education program, Marsden is one of only 35 who tested successfully to receive the accreditation. Although proud of this accomplishment, he can’t rest on his laurels.

“BIM technology is constantly growing and quickly, so you have to make an effort to keep up with it,” he says. “Faith Technologies upgrades its software every year, and I’m always reading and researching the latest developments. It amazes me how much BIM has advanced in just the two years since I started the AGC certification process. It won’t be too long before the technology will allow us to consistently know exactly what a building’s power consumption will be long before the foundation is ever poured.”

Marsden is also excited for what this certification means for the future of Faith Technologies.

“It’s more than just a piece of paper to me,” he remarks. “It validates the years of BIM experience our company has acquired while working on projects throughout the United States.”