Course: Designing with 3D CAD & BIM

This is the online version of a course that I am teaching in the Building and Construction Technology (BCT) program at UMass Amherst. This course is available to anyone (not just matriculated students) on a per-credit fee basis.

Course Description

This course provides a thorough introduction into Autodesk Revit and covers many applied topics in Trimble SketchUp Pro, both industry-leading software in the AEC field.

BCT 420 presents advanced topics in architectural and construction-focused CAD & BIM software in a problem-based environment. Topics covered are: 3D modeling, constructability analysis, digital fabrication, parametric building design, Building Information Modeling (BIM), construction documentation, material takeoff, 3D modeling for building-energy analysis, laser scanning and point clouds, rendering, collaboration, and presentation.

The graduate section (ECO 620) provides students with an opportunity to expand on the content of BCT 420 and deepen their studies in Building Information Modeling (BIM), a concept that is at the heart of contemporary digital building planning and execution. In addition to learning basic concepts from BCT 420 (advanced 3D modeling, digital fabrication, and an overview of Autodesk Revit and Trimble SketchUp Pro), students in this course are required to independently research various BIM-related topics and apply them through project work and presentations. Students must complete an in-depth term project in which they explore advanced BIM topics like parametric design, building energy modeling, estimating, scheduling, and others. Specific topics are tailored to the graduate students personal field of research and the project and accompanying faculty guidance are intended to support their research endeavors.

You can take this course on its own or part of the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Building Construction or our Master’s in Sustainable Building Systems.


All BCT 420 and ECO 620 students:

  1. Introduction and SketchUp Review
  2. Construction Detail Modeling with SketchUp
  3. Digital Fabrication with SketchUp
  4. SketchUp Extensions
  5. BIM Mini-Symposium / Intro to Revit
  6. Revit Bootcamp:
    1. Walls, Doors, and Windows
    2. Stairs and Roofs
    3. Floors, Elevations, Sections, and Curtain Walls
    4. Details, Structure, Footings, and Furniture
  7. Benefits of BIM: Schedules and Estimating
  8. Benefits of BIM: Schedules and Estimating
  9. Benefits of BIM: 3D Scanning / Point Clouds
  10. Final BIM Project

ECO 620 students in addition:

  • BIM topic research and presentation
  • Term BIM Project

Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to work in a 3-dimensional CAD / BIM environment 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/or embedded data), and extract data from the BIM model
  • Ability to use CAD / BIM-based tools to solve technical issues (e.g. 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 Pro as an example of a general purpose 3D modeling tool
  • Knowledge of options to work collaboratively with BIM data on Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) projects
  • Knowledge of advanced CAD / BIM principles: Interoperability, software extensions, scripting/automation, texturing/rendering, laser scanning, workflow methods and others
  • Introduction to Trimble SketchUp Pro, Autodesk Revit, Trimble Connect, Trimble Realworks, and Trimble’s laser scanner


Basic previous CAD knowledge (e.g. from AutoCAD, SketchUp, Rhino,…) is expected (e.g. from BCT 320 or a similar course or work practice, instructor can override). Basic knowledge of SketchUp is required at the beginning of the course.

ECO 620: Students should have a bachelor’s degree or be certificate/graduate students.

Course Format

This course is delivered online through the UMass Amherst learning management systems. Students are expected to install all of the required software (mainly Trimble SketchUp Pro and Autodesk Revit) on their own computers – academic versions are available for free. Computer lab access in Amherst, MA or Newton, MA is also available if needed.

Dates and Cost

Spring Term (February – May, 13 weeks):

  • BCT 420: The undergrad section is currently not offered online
  • ECO 620: $1,740 ($580/credit) plus a $75 term fee (2023 rates)

Where to sign up

You can find this course and register on the UMass University Without Walls (UWW) here:

UMass UWW Courses