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About Us

CIFE - The Center for Integrated Facility Engineering - is a research center at Stanford University, working on issues relevant to the Architecture - Engineering - Construction industry.

The CIFE mission is to be the world's premier academic research center for Virtual Design and Construction of Architecture - Engineering - Construction (AEC) industry projects.

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is the use of multi-disciplinary performance models of design-construction projects, including the Product (i.e., facilities), Work Processes and Organization of the design - construction - operation team in order to support business objectives.

CIFE practices follow:

  • Cultural values that include:
    • Openness and transparency: to members, university colleagues and students;
    • Directed toward big ideas: believable breakthrough vision for members and students;
    • Evidence-based: seek and respect measured results to precise questions;
    • Systematic: drive from Mission to strategy to objectives to plans to actions to reflection to updates;
    • Focused: serve our members, students, university; help the industry as we can.
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  • Vision that we and our members develop, learn and apply VDC principles and methods to help projects deliver exceptional value and help member organizations achieve breakthrough objectives in support of their exceptionally reliable design, engineering construction and management to develop and operate sustainable facilities.
  • Principles that support the CIFE mission and vision, including:
    • Integrated: CIFE research takes an integrated view of  projects that considers the product, which is typically a facility, the design-construction-operational organization and the process followed by the organization to design, build and operate the product;
    • Model-based: early and frequent development and review of project models and analyses;
    • Engage stakeholders: early, often and meaningfully to design, review and manage using project models and analyses;
    • Metrics-based: Set explicit objectives, report performance often and manage by objectives and performance;
    • Managing model and analysis level of detail (LOD): Focus models, analyses and management on what is within the locus of control of the project team at the time.
  • Methods to model and analyze projects, collaborate and manage, including:
    • Translational research to integrate our work with practice. Translational research integrates baseline observations of practice, typically performed on site, to identify problems, followed by theoretical investigation and development of new methods to address those problems using the best methods available in the university, followed by carefully designed and conducted validation studies to asses the power and generality of the innovative method in practice.
    • Formal models that are computer-based, logically unified and physically separated, of the:
      • Product: using the methods of object-oriented building information models, model the physical facility in 3D and 4D;
      • Organization: using formal and informal methods, model the project design, engineering, construction and operation teams;
      • Process: representation of short-interval tasks that are logically related to but separate from milestone and master schedules
      • Project: in a logically integrated way, represent and model the vocabulary of the product - organization - process models as well as project economic and risk models;
    • Model-based analyses of the product, organization and process, such as product quantity take offs, cost, energy, structure, organizational risk and cost, schedule and schedule risk;
    • Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) methods to enable multiple stakeholders to work collaboratively using VDC models, model-based analyses and social agreements such as team designs and charters, commitments, coordination and meeting agreements;
    • Metrics that describe the current and intended project performance as well as methods to collect performance data frequently, review it and use it in management;
    • Management methods including target costing and scheduling, pull planning, master scheduling, creation and use of models, analyses, and maps of process and value streams.
  • Activities, which broadly include:
    • Research - to work with member organizations to document problems, develop and test innovative new ways to model, visualize, analyze and evaluate the multidisciplinary performance of design-construction projects, and validate results; and
    • Education - to increase awareness of and competence to use the methods and understand the value and costs of VDC for practitioners and Stanford students.