BCT 420 Course Syllabus

Course Description:


Building upon skills acquired in the “Introduction to CAD for Construction and Architecture” course, this course presents advanced topics in architectural CAD/BIM software and its uses in design and construction.

Centered on problem-based tasks, topics such as 3-dimensional modeling, design for fabrication, parametric building design, building information modeling (BIM), material takeoff, energy-efficient planning and model analysis, rendering and presentation, and others will be explored.

Industry-standard CAD/BIM software such as Trimble SketchUp, Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Navisworks, and Autodesk AutoCAD will be used to accomplish this.

Meetings: Spring Term – Mon, Wed 9:30-11:00, Design Building 260
Credits: 3
Sections: (all sections meet at the same time)

  • BCT 420 is for undergraduate students
  • ECO 620 (“Studies in Building Information Modeling”) is for graduate students. See the separate syllabus for additional requirements.

Students will gain from this course:

  • Ability to work in a 3-dimensional CAD / BIM enviroment and create 3D models of construction assemblies and buildings.
  • Ability to create a parametric building information model (“BIM” = a 3d object-oriented model of a building where each component has “intelligent” behaviors and embedded data) and extract data. This approach facilitates the creation of construction documents (plans, elevations etc.), material takeoffs and building schedules as well as performance (e.g. building energy) analysis.
  • Ability to use CAD-based tools to solve technical issues (fabrication, energy efficiency, lighting, structural etc.) during the planning process.
  • Understanding of Autodesk Revit as an example of a parametric BIM building modeling software and Trimble SketchUp as an example of a general purpose 3D modeling tool.
  • Knowledge of options to work collaboratively on Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) projects.
  • Knowledge of advanced CAD/BIM principles: Interoperability, software extensions, scripting/automation, texturing/rendering, workflow methods and others.

Topics / Schedule:

  1. Detailed 3D modeling (SketchUp) for assembly planning and constructability analysis. Creating animations. (Weeks 2 & 3)
  2. 3D modeling for fabrication and digital fabrication principles (SketchUp). The ins and outs of SketchUp (import/export, extensions). (Weeks 4 & 5)
  3. Principles of BIM and application cases. (Week 6)
  4. 3D BIM modeling (Revit). (Weeks 7 – 10)
  5. Working with BIM models:
    1. Estimating & material takeoff (= the power of data and parameters in Revit) (Week 11)
    2. Clash detection and interoperability (Revit and Navisworks) (Week 12)
    3. 3D scanning and modeling from point clouds (SketchUp and Realworks) (Week 13)
  6. 3D modeling / BIM term project

Course Components:

  • Class Meetings: Two weekly 1.5 hr. sessions (Mon. & Wed.) are scheduled in the Design Building 260 Trimble Technology Lab. They provide a hands-on environment for the instructor to introduce core techniques and for students to practice these in projects and group work. Attendance and participation is mandatory. See attendance section for details.
  • Readings/Quizzes: Students are expected to have reviewed assigned readings before class and must have completed a short online weekly review quiz (three attempts, highest grade) on the readings.
  • Projects: 3 in-term projects provide a task-oriented opportunity for students to practice their skills. These projects are either individual or small group projects and they comprise a wide range of topics covered in this course.
  • Assignments: 3-4 smaller assignments allow for practice of more defined skills, usually centering around a single topic.
  • Term Project: A term project requires students to work on one BIM topic in a self-guided manner. This project should center on the student’s interests and may require self-study of material.

Required Materials:

  • Architectural Design with SketchUp / 2nd Edition / Schreyer / John Wiley & Sons (Amazon link)
    My reference book for SketchUp, which covers modeling, plugins, rendering, making and scripting. We will use it for the first third of the course. You may have free access to the e-book via the library.
  • Commercial Design Using Autodesk Revit / Any recent edition / Daniel John Stine / SDC Publications
    We will use this tutorial-based book after the first third of the course. You can get any recent edition of this book.
  • If you don’t have one yet, get an architect’s scale. You can get one for a few dollars from the university store or from Amazon.

Optional Literature:

Check the UMass Library e-books subscriptions to see if you can get access to any of these for free!



  • Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture / Dzambazova, Demchak, Krygiel / John Wiley & Sons
    (Good next-level reference for Revit Architecture)
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture for Architects & Designers / Tickoo / Cadcim
    (Similar, very tutorial-oriented)
  • Introduction to Residential Design Using Autodesk Revit / Stine / SDC Publications
    (Similar book to our textbook by same publisher covering commercial projects)


  • BIM Handbook / Eastman, Teicholz, Sacks, Liston / John Wiley & Sons
    (A thorough look at the various aspects of BIM)
  • BIM and Construction Management: Proven Tools, Methods, and Workflows / Hardin / Sybex
    (A BIM reference with a focus on construction management)
  • BIM and Integrated Design – Strategies for Architectural Practice / Deutsch / John Wiley & Sons
    (A BIM reference with a focus on architecture)
  • Green BIM / Krygiel, Nies / Sybex
    (Looks at BIM from the green building side)

Construction methods and drafting:

  • Architectural Graphic Standards Student Edition / Ramsey, Sleeper / John Wiley & Sons
    (Reference for general architectural planning)
  • Architectural Graphics / Ching / John Wiley & Sons
    (Reference for drafting and presentation)
  • Architectural Drafting and Design / Jefferis, Madsen / Thomson, Delmar Learning
    (Drafting and construction methods)


Alexander C. Schreyer, M.A.Sc., Dipl.-Ing.
Senior Lecturer and Program Director BCT

Office: Design Building, Room 318
Office hours:
Sign up at https://alexschreyer.youcanbook.me
schr@eco.umass.edu (Click on the dots to reveal the address)
+1 (413) 545-1976
Department: eco.umass.edu/people/faculty/schreyer-alexander-c/
Web: www.alexschreyer.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alexschreyer
Twitter: www.twitter.com/alexschreyer

Rules, Exams and Grading:

Course Pre-requisites: BCT 320 (“Intro to CAD for Construction and Architecture”) or equivalent CAD knowledge (AutoCAD and SketchUp knowledge required).
Course Co-requisites: None

Contacting Instructor: Office hours will be announced at the beginning of the term (in class and on Moodle). Aside from these times, students can arrange meetings with the instructor or simply state any questions in an e-mail (faster response).

Course Website / LMS: This course’s main communications platform will be its Moodle site. Students must make sure they can access it reliably. While the Moodle site is usable on phones and tablets, some tasks may require the use of a computer.

Computers: While there is no requirement to bring a personal computer to class, students must have access to one and be familiar with common office-type applications (e.g. Word and Excel) and email. If this course requires acquiring and installation of software, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure their computer is capable enough and then perform the installation themselves. The instructor can provide advice for common computing questions, but ultimately it is up to the student and UMass’ IT help desk to resolve any issues. On-campus computers are available in many locations, for example in Design Building 260 or 235 (printers available) or any IT classroom computers.

Students must also have a means for storing and exchanging files such as an external hard-drive, USB stick, UMass Apps (GDrive), BoxUMass U-Drive, or any other removable storage. If you use removable storage, write your name and email on those (they are frequently left behind)!

If a student has any problems with this, contact the instructor early on so that arrangements can be made.

Attendance: Regular class attendance is mandatory and will be recorded. Classes will start on time. The instructor reserves the right to reduce the overall attendance grade for latecomers. Please note: Missing six classes (unexcused or excused) over the course of a semester makes the student eligible for failing this course.

Absences: Whenever possible, unavoidable absences for labs and exams need to be discussed with the instructor prior to the lab or the exam (in person or in an e-mail). Appropriate documentation will be required. After-the-fact notifications will only be accepted if no possibility of prior submittal existed. If you have to miss an exam due to a university-accepted reason, contact the instructor before the exam (if possible) to arrange for a solution to this problem. Other than for approved reasons, make-up exams will not be given.

Students are responsible for obtaining missed course material. Only portions of the full course content are available on Moodle. Students are encouraged to copy someone else’s notes and to contact the instructor only if they are still missing any material after that.

(Late) Hand-in: Due dates will be set at the time of assignment and are published on Moodle. Assignments and lab reports must be submitted to Moodle on time and (unless stated otherwise) email submissions will not be accepted. Late submittal (without prior instructor approval) will incur the following grade adjustments: -5% per day (including weekends) until the day, when the solutions are published and the corrected work is returned. After that point, students will receive 0% (an F) for the missed hand-in. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that work is uploaded to Moodle.


45% – Projects (3 @ 15% each)
15% – Assignments (3-4)
25% – Term BIM project
5% – Online Quizzes (three attempts, highest grade, lowest dropped)
10% – Attendance, participation

Letter Grading:

A ≥ 93.0 % | A− = 90.0-92.9 %
B+ = 87.0-89.9 % | B = 83.0-86.9 % | B− = 80.0-82.9%
C+ = 77.0-79.9 % | C = 73.0-76.9 % | C− = 70.0-72.9 %
D+ = 67.0-69.9 % | D = 60.0-66.9 %
F < 60.0 %

Grades will be calculated based on the rules set up in Moodle’s gradebook. Letter grade conversion then follows without any further numerical rounding.

Grievance Procedure: If you feel that an awarded grade is not accurate for whatever reason, you may dispute it by submitting a written explanation together with the graded material to the instructor within two weeks of receiving the graded material.

Special Needs: All reasonable efforts will be made to meet the individual needs of the student. If students have a learning disability or need special accommodation they are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructor early in the semester to discuss their needs. All discussions will be kept strictly confidential.

Academic Honesty: The University Academic Honesty Policy applies (see here: https://www.umass.edu/honesty/).  It covers plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and facilitating dishonesty. Occurrences of any of those practices will be dealt with according to university policy. Original write-up of homework is required by each group/individual (as applicable) for a given assignment or lab report.

Classroom Behavior: As per building policy, it is not permitted to consume food in the classroom. Students must also silence all phone, text, and other communication tools during class. Any disruptive behavior will be sanctioned appropriately.

Copyright and Privacy: No component of the course (printed and online materials, lectures, labs, discussion sessions etc.) may be recorded (audio or video) except for personal use, broadcast, published, or re-published without the written consent of the instructor. Violations will be considered a copyright infringement and sanctioned appropriately.


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