On the Road with the Academies

MarklingVerrastro_SalINSIDE CSI
Gregory Markling, FCSI, Lifetime Member, CCS, CCCA, and Salvatore Verrastro, FCSI, CCS, CCCA

CSI’s mission is to advance building information management and educate project teams to improve facility performance. Education is the most powerful means by which these goals can be realized and the Academies have been the institute’s premier education program.

The CSI Academies offers a trio of educational tracks: Construction Specifications (CS), Construction Contract Administration (CCA), and Product Representation (PR). These streams represent the association’s three-legged stool on which it develops and builds successful programs and services. Once registered, attendees can choose to participate in any session from all three tracks. This interdisciplinary format allows interaction in an environment that encourages professional and personal networking, team-building, and high-quality learning.

In February, at the CSI Academies held in Charlotte, North Carolina, the authors jointly and individually presented a number of topics in the CCA track, ranging from “General and Supplementary Conditions” to “Anatomy of an OAC (Owner, Architect, Contractor) Meeting.” For the past few years, we have also jointly presented a session titled, “Real-world Applications.” It has become so popular, we were asked to make an expanded presentation on this topic ‘on the road’ in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, on November 15.

This represents CSI’s next evolutionary step in its delivery of education programs to our industry. Many educational topics can be effectively presented as narrated webinars, electronic slide decks, and even as pre-recorded ‘on-demand’ sessions. Our topic, however, is most effectively presented in an interactive environment where attendees can role-play, discuss strategies and variable approaches, and develop solutions to practical challenges together. This interactivity is the secret to the success of this particular session on our CCA Academies Track.

For the expanded presentation, we are scheduled from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., with as many as 100 attendees expected. The agenda includes a morning session where we will present abridged versions of some of our key CCA sessions from the Academies, setting the stage for the real-world applications in the afternoon.

In the morning, we address the ‘why’ in the theory, which helps us develop a direction and strategy in challenging situations. It includes discussions on topics such as contract modifications, submittals and substitutions, and field visits. Our afternoon session uncovers actual day-to-day techniques and practical applications, which we will test against our theories. We all know we learn as much through experience as we do in the classroom, so these discussions provide a much deeper understanding of the principles. A series of scenarios will present a situation, the parties involved, and the actual result based on a real-world experience. Groups will then role-play and de-brief each outcome to determine whether a better resolution could have been developed.

This session also addresses the fact there are two different kinds of knowledge: theory and practical application. Both are important to understand and will help us become better designers, contractors, specifiers, and contract administrators. Learning objectives include understanding how to avoid potential change orders and conflicts with the owner and contractor, exploring the basic theories of contract administration, and problem-solving techniques.

We hope this traveling CSI Academies experience will be the first of many in the months to come. In this age of instant access to information on the Internet, there is still a place for onsite, face-to-face, interactive education. You may expand your personal or professional network even farther than you might expect, while also learning some valuable lessons about the real world of design and construction.

Visit www.csinet/realworldapplications to register. Also, save the date for the 2014 CSI Academies, coming to Indianapolis, Indiana in March. Visit www.csinet.org/academies.

Gregory Markling, FCSI, Lifetime Member, CCS, CCCA, is the immediate past-president of CSI. A long-time member of the faculty of the CSI Academies, he is a past-chair of CSI’s Certification and Education Committees. An architect in private practice for 35 years, he is now an independent building information consultant. Markling can be contacted at ibimsolutions@msn.com.

Salvatore Verrastro, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, is the leader of the CSI Academies’ Construction Contract Administration (CCA) track. He is a principal at Spillman Farmer Architects. Verrastro can be reached via e-mail at sverrastro@spillmanfarmer.com.

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