Civil engineer and computer scientist Dr Jonathan Ingram is to be awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal for his work developing the system that heralded the revolution in Building Information Modelling (BIM). The award will be presented by HRH The Duke of Kent at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Awards Dinner on 23 June.

Building Information Modelling allows users to build a virtual model containing all the information about a building, including working drawings and live data, enabling architects, facility managers, service, electrical and structural engineers to co-ordinate their work and integrate designs from construction through to maintenance of the finished structure. Its use has resulted in more efficient buildings, shorter construction times, and safer builds. As systems are increasingly digitised, BIM is seen as fundamental to the development of smarter cities.

Dr Ingram’s Sonata software, completed in 1985, represented a step-change in technology as the first system to bring together all of the characteristics of modern BIM, enabling users to create a single model of a whole building rather than referencing many different files. Dr Ingram designed and built Sonata using one of the first desktop workstations, alone in an attic, based on his experience of 15 years of graphics, mathematical and engineering projects. The first version included full rendering capabilities, with internal design for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and energy management.

Since its launch, Sonata has been used by approximately 1,000 firms around the world, in the design and build of structures including the Australian National Tennis Centre, the British Library, and Portcullis House in Westminster. In 1992, Dr Ingram went on to design and co-write Reflex, the next generation BIM system, which has been used on notable projects including the refurbishment of the Royal Albert Hall and aspects of the construction of the Heathrow Express.

Dr Ingram said: “It gives me great pleasure to receive the Prince Philip Medal. At the time, ‘selling’ the changes in work practices that BIM insists upon was difficult and it is happily surprising that BIM is now a revolution in its own right. I hope that BIM will be extended into smart cities and digitising building and infrastructure asset bases.”

Commenting on the award, BIM expert Ray Crotty said: “There is no other individual or organisation that links continuously back from today’s Building Information Modelling to those early efforts. He introduced most of the important innovations in information technology into computer aided architectural design. Without Jonathan’s work BIM would not exist.”

Following Dr Ingram’s development of the third-generation ProReflex system, a license for its development was assigned to the founders of the Revit system in 1998, which today forms the predominant BIM system in use around the world.

Notes for editors

  1. The Prince Philip Medal is commissioned by HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh KG KT, Senior Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, for exceptional contributions to engineering through practice, management or education. The medal is awarded biennially to an engineer of any nationality who has made an exceptional contribution to engineering as a whole through practice, management or education.
  2. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0655
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Aaron Boardley