Simon Brøgger: The engineer who creates 3D models of major highway projects in Norway

Man standing by desk with computer monitors. Simon Brøgger (SIBR)

When NIRAS is designing large-scale highways passing in between the Norwegian mountains, engineer Simon Brøgger plays a key role. He creates 3D models of the highways, showing exactly how much gravel, asphalt and soil will be used.

For nearly six months, Simon Brøgger has been stationed abroad at NIRAS’ Oslo office. Here, he is designing large, data-rich BIM models in 3D, showing how the new E39 highway and E16 highway curvature affect and runs through the Norwegian landscape. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is about using computer-based 3D technology when designing, implementing and managing construction projects, in this case highways. 

In recent years, NIRAS has established office and gained solid presence in the Norwegian market, where massive investments are being made within the infrastructure sector. That is why 28-year-old Simon Brøgger made the journey from NIRAS’ branch in Odense to its office in Oslo to design 3D models of the new major roads. Simon Brøgger is a qualified construction engineer from the University of Southern Denmark and has previously worked on 3D designing of roads and site development for Orbicon.

What is the most exciting part about working with roads in Norway?

It is exciting to work with roads in a country that is not as flat as we are used to in Denmark. There are other challenges related to designing a highway in hilly and mountaneous terrain, compared to those we are familiar with from road planning and design in Denmark.

What must you consider when designing a new highway?

The construction of new highways is a major expenditure. Typically, the costs are in the billions. That is why it is very important that the roads do not become more expensive than necessary. For example, if bridges are being built, on which the road will pass, this will quickly become very expensive. It is also preferable to avoid constructing the highway through people’s private land, involving acquisition  of the homeowner’s land by the authorities. Basically, we want to cause as little inconvenience as possible.        

What are the 3D models used for?

With the help of 3D models, we can visualise the large-scale roads for our clients. When interacting with clients, it is a great advantage to be able to show them precisely where and how the road will be built. Furthermore, we use the models to precisely calculate how much soil, gravel and asphalt will be used or moved when the individual road is being built. The contractors can also use the model to manage their machines, so that they dig at the correct depths and do not exceed the edges of the road, when asphalting and gravelling. 

What is the biggest difference between being at university versus being in the labour market?

The biggest difference is that all the projects and models I now work with will be realised. This, of course, did not happen at university, where there was more freedom as is was always hypothetical examples. There is therefore a major responsibility associated with realising the projects, as opposed to using them in theoretical exams. At the same time, the financial aspect is far more important in the real world compared to at university.