Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Baris Salman


Building Information Modeling, Digital Ecosystems, Digital Twins, Infrastructure Asset Management, Project Management

Subject Categories

Civil and Environmental Engineering | Civil Engineering | Engineering


An increasing number of new airport infrastructure construction and improvement projects are being delivered in today’s modern world. However, value creation is a recurring issue due to inefficiencies in managing capital expenditures (CapEx) and operating expenses (OpEx), while trying to optimize project constraints of scope, time, cost, quality, and resources. In this new era of smart infrastructure, digitalization transforms the way projects are planned and delivered. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a key digital process technique that has become an imperative for today’s Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO) sector. This research suggests a BIM-centric digital ecosystem by detailing technical and strategic aspects of Airport BIM implementation and digital technology integration from a life cycle perspective. This research provides a novel approach for consistent and continuous use of digital information between business and functional levels of an airport by developing a digital platform solution that will enable seamless flow of information across functions. Accordingly, this study targets to achieve three objectives: 1- To provide a scalable know-how of BIM-enabled digital transformation; 2- To guide airport owners and major stakeholders towards converging information siloes for airport life cycle data management by an Airport BIM Framework; 3- To develop a BIM-based digital platform architecture towards realization of an airport digital twin for airport infrastructure life cycle management. Airport infrastructures can be considered as a System of Systems (SoS). As such, Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) with Systems Modeling Language (SysML) is selected as the key methodology towards designing a digital ecosystem. Applying MBSE principles leads to forming an integrating framework for managing the digital ecosystem. Furthermore, this research adopts convergent parallel mixed methods to collect and analyze multiple forms of data. Data collection tools include extensive literature and industry review; an online questionnaire; semi-structured interviews with airport owner parties; focus group discussions; first-hand observations; and document reviews. Data analysis stage includes multiple explanatory case study analyses, thematic analysis, project mapping, percent coverage analysis for coded themes to achieve Objective 1; thematic analysis, cluster analysis, framework analysis, and non-parametric statistical analysis for Objective 2; and qualitative content analysis, non-parametric statistical analysis to accomplish Objective 3. This research presents a novel roadmap toward facilitation of smart airports with alignment and integration of disruptive technologies with business and operational aspects of airports. Multiple comprehensive case study analyses on international large-hub airports and triangulation of organization-level and project-level results systematically generate scalable technical and strategic guidelines for BIM implementation. The proposed platform architecture will incentivize major stakeholders for value-creation, data sharing, and control throughout a project life cycle. Introducing scalability and minimizing complexity for end-users through a digital platform approach will lead to a more connected environment. Consequently, a digital ecosystem enables sophisticated interaction between people, places, and assets. Model-driven approach provides an effective strategy for enhanced decision-making that helps optimization of project resources and allows fast adaptation to emerging business and operational demands. Accordingly, airport sustainability measures -economic vitality, operational efficiency, natural resources, and social responsibility- will improve due to higher levels of efficiency in CapEx and OpEx. Changes in business models for large capital investments and introducing sustainability to supply chains are among the anticipated broader impacts of this study.


Open Access