The History & Impact of the BPA Certificate Program

This page contains statistics and anecdotes to communicate the history of the BPA Certificate program, and the impact that it is having on education and the industry. It also includes a list of improvements we’ve made as a result of feedback.

The BPA Certificate program officially launched on August 30, 2013, after over a year of pilots with students and educators. Version 2 of the program was released one year later, and the course became part of the AU Workshop in November of 2014.

We created the BPA Certificate program to fill a need we identified in education for building science and building simulation among both architects and engineers. We’re serious about trying to help drive an industry-wide transition to performance-based sustainable design.

Part of that commitment is measuring the effectiveness of the program, and its impact on the lives and careers of those who take advantage of it.

As with anything, the BPA Certificate Program is not perfect and it will only get better through continuous improvement. We’re doing our best to listen to our customers, and we’ve built-in feedback loops to so that we can evolve the program based on the needs and feedback of our users.

We’re also committed to transparency. Here are some data points on the impact of the program to-date, some anecdotes we’ve collected, and a list of things we've improved based on user feedback.

DATA UPDATED APRIL 22, 2014 (Happy Earth Day!)

MILESTONE: 1,000 CERTIFICATES EARNED! On April 15, 2014, the one thousandth person completed the BPA Certificate course. Since its launch about 7 months ago (August 30, 2013), over 7,800 people have signed up for the course. It’s not a short and easy course, so all 1,000 of those people deserve big congratulations. 

 

Ray Barnes and students from his class at the University of Arizona were amongst the first 1,000 people to earn the Autodesk BPA Certificate. Pictured from left to right are Luca D'Ippolito, Carlos Flores, Fátima Terrell, Ray Barnes, Kyle Bogasky, and Jessica McQuillen.

Who’s taking the course?

7,817 people have registered for the course, and 1,020 people have completed it so far. This is a 13% completion rate. Of the total registrants, 36% have registered as part of a course where the instructor has assigned this as part of the class and 64% have been independently motivated and signed up on their own. We find that students who sign up as part of a course are more likely to complete the course (23% completion within that group).
 
 
Our audience for the course is both students and professionals. The largest segment of people are first or second year undergraduate students. The second largest group, at about 30%, are third to fifth year undergrads. 
 
Our users are largely architects (71%). Civil engineers are the second largest group at 9%. Mechanical engineers are 7%.
 
Users come from all over the world, with North America and Europe being the largest segments. The audience in Asia is also significant at 16%. While the course is currently offered only in English, educators who are using the BPA Certificate Program in their classes tell us that many students are completing the certificate in their non-native language. 
 
 

What feedback do users have?

Most users say it takes them between 20 and 30 hours for users to complete the course, however there is a lot of variation in this data point. The major factor for this variation is experience.
 
Overall, some users say that the course was a little too long, but the majority say given what they learned, the course length was just right.  Also, 88% of those who earned their certificate consider the difficulty of the BPA Certificate Program was just right, with 10% considering it too hard. 
 
 
Of the users who have earned their certificate…
  • 90% would recommend the BPA Certificate Program to others.
  • 82% said that the program as a whole was a worthwhile experience and they learned a lot.
  • 84% said that the course improved their knowledge of building science.
  • 85% will apply this knowledge to future projects.
  • 81% want to continue learning about Building Performance Analysis and BIM.
  • 71% feel that the course enhanced their employment opportunities. 
  • 93% think Building Performance Analysis will enhance their ability as a designer.
Before starting the BPA Certificate Program, 68% of users who completed the course said they had some experience with the material, while for 23% it was completely new. 60% think that their current university provides sufficient instruction in BPA and BIM. 
 
 

What feedback do educators have?

Over 200 educators from all over the world have signed up to use the BPA Certificate Program in their classrooms. Over 90% of educators who used the BPA Certificate Program in Fall 2013 would recommend the program to other educators, and 92% would use the program again. 69% reported that their students had an enjoyable experience. 

100% feel the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop and the BPA Certificate Program cover building science topics that fill a gap or help deepen current coursework.  

Quotes from Users

Below is some anonymized feedback we’ve received from the in-course surveys that’s representative of the feedback we receive.

 

This was amazing and worked great! This went along with my sustainability class at school. This has helped my grade in that class, re-enforced my knowledge on all the subjects, and deepened my knowledge of the software. Thank you for providing this opportunity for free!

-Architecture Undergraduate Student

 

A very nice initiative by the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop to promote building physics into main stream architectural practice.

-Architecture Graduate Student

 

This certificate helped me to re-structure my own course work. I feel my course is much better and it shows in the course evaluations. The technical team in charge of this is doing fantastic work.

-Professor of Architecture

 

This is a great course that still needs a little tweaking.  Likewise, our school needs a little tweaking before we can start using this on a regular basis.  I am excited to see what is next.

-Professor of Architecture

 

Being an Architect, I found some of the quizzes, mainly in the Energy Literacy and Building Loads, a lot more difficult to comprehend compared to all the other sections.  Mainly I feel this is due to the fact that we generally do not over involve ourselves with this information.  It would have been more beneficial to have more examples of how elements worked in the text before going to the quiz. I would find this useful, as I could break down and understand the concepts.  Thanks again for the course!

-Professional Architect

 

Thank you very much for this course. It provides a good balance between theory and practice and gives the whole picture of modern sustainable approach in building design. Even being a "professional" engineer I have found a lot of new ideas. I wish there was a section dedicated to HVAC systems, [as] they drastically affect final building performance.

-Professional Mechanical Engineer

 

What have we done to improve in Version 2 of the BPA Certificate program?

Version 2 of the BPA Certificate program launched on August 30, 2014. Here are some things we’ve changed based on feedback:

  • Shorter: We do want more people to complete it. We've made the course a bit shorter by: 1) removing some redundancy; 2) trimming the fat and ensuring everything is extremely actionable.
  • More videos and examples: We hear that users like videos and case examples. We've tried to add and improve both.
  • Pro courses: We've launched a series of individual courses targeted to the needs and time constraints of practicing professionals. They are pre-approved for continuing education units.
  • Updating products included: We've shifted the course to represent the latest mix of Autodesk’s Building Performance Analysis tools. Vasari is no longer included, and the course focuses on Revit-based workflows.
  • Improving basic help and support: We’ve been working to improve BPA Help and BPA Support. We encourage users to engage on these platforms.
  • In the future:
    • We’d like to drive more adoption in engineering schools, specifically mechanical engineering.
    • We’ll work to improve our web platforms so it is easier to “localize” the course content for different languages. However, we do not have any firm plans for when a localized version of the course will be available.