The BIM nerd

Estefanía Luz Rave (30), BIM manager – Tunnels and Underground Infrastructure
“When building in real life, two dimensions are not enough”

If you think of nerds as shy people of few words, Estefanía Luz Rave proves you wrong in minutes. The Argentinian is an explosion of presence, stories and laughs. As a BIM specialist, she is the bridge builder between design and construction with advanced 3D models, satisfying her need to understand complex things and translate them into reality. “It’s a bit like a computer game,” she says.

What really got me about BIM modelling at first was how it provides an overview of the complexity in 3D. When building in real life, two dimensions are not enough; you need three dimensions to fully understand a build.

But BIM models are so much more than 3D. A model can be the size of a plate, but when you open it up, it is huge, containing every aspect of the build. It can hold information about materials, manuals for construction and components—and not just for blue prints, but also for the people on site and for maintenance. It still amazes me how much information we can fit into the models.

Digitalising the construction process

Back in Argentina I studied architecture at the university in Buenos Aires. The construction process really got me from the start, and it wasn't until I entered COWI that I had the opportunity to get into the world of infrastructure and work together with engineers, which I certainly love.

During my master studies, I began working with BIM and decided to steer my career towards the construction and digitalisation aspect of building. I’d been in Denmark as a high school exchange student in 2008 and with my new specialisation I got a job at COWI, moving back here in 2018.

I started as Project Coordinator three years ago, moved on to Project Manager two years ago and now I am a BIM specialist. Besides working on larger tunnel projects, I also work together with the internal digitalisation team on developing standards as well as setting up and carrying out BIM implementations of new projects.

Like moving around a computer game

It’s fantastic to work with BIM modelling in COWI because of the scale and the infrastructure of our projects. The main project I´m currently working on is the Gothenburg Metro.

BIM models make it easier to manage this enormous and complex construction project, navigating through them is a bit like moving around in a computer game, such as Sim City. But the real value of the models is that all the information we need is right at our fingertips – and we can find and implement improvements before starting construction. This gives our clients an enormous advantage saving both time and money.

Self-taught and curious

When working with technology, you always need to stay up to date with new trends and tools – BIM is no exception. When I first heard about BIM, I got very curious and started to explore and educate myself. After I started working in the industry, I realized that one way or another most of us are self-taught in the field.

This curiosity that drove me to explore BIM at first still drives me today, both in work and my life in general. I’m constantly exploring and trying to learn. Like when I moved to my new apartment and ripped up the carpets to see what was underneath. It wasn't the most conservative thing to do, but the result was good – I found a nice wooden floor underneath. I believe in always trying out new things to understand and optimise them.

How do you define being a nerd?
“To me, it’s about being lucky and smart enough to find something you are passionate about and, in turn, very good at. When you do that, you have fun, enjoy doing what you do and give your best to continuously improve.”

Which nerd do you admire the most?
“I usually get inspired by creative and proactive people that are straightforward and down to earth.”

What do you want to become a nerd at next?
“There are so many things. I really enjoy the BIM management role and working with people, so I picture myself pursuing a career in management. In 2019, I completed COWIs ACCELERATOR programme – an extensive talent and leadership programme, which really sparked my interest in following the path of management.”

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