Industry and academia collaborate in construction productivity and competency research

u of alberta construction research

Industry and academia in Edmonton are exploring research advancements in construction productivity and organizational competency.

They discussed their findings at a one-day event in early June, hosted by the University of Alberta Hole School of Construction Engineering under the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Strategic Construction Modeling and Delivery, which attracted construction owners, engineers, contractors, labour unions, construction associations, government, and university researchers.

The research findings are the result of a collaboration between the University of Alberta, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and nine construction industry stakeholders under NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Strategic Construction Modeling and Delivery (IRC in SCMD).

The IRC in SCMD is a unique forum in which university, industry, and government collaborate on multi-year research initiatives aimed at increasing labour productivity and project performance in industrial and commercial construction and maintenance.

Enhancing productivity and performance has become a core focus of the Alberta industrial and commercial construction industries, which face significant pressures to reduce capital costs and compete with international markets.

The IRC research is notable in its use of fuzzy logic to reach deeper research conclusions by combining quantitative and qualitative information and expert knowledge to develop decision support tools that improve construction decision-making and performance. The multi-stakeholder perspective in its partnership base, including owners, contractors, and labour groups, provides a venue by which collaborative research with a far-reaching impact on the construction industry is possible.

“Today’s workshop was an important milestone in this long-standing research program, wherein we were able to share our very significant and ground-breaking findings in areas of great concern and impact for the construction industry,” Dr. Aminah Robinson Fayek, chairholder of the NSERC IRC in SCMD, said in a news release. “This work is a result of a collaboration between university researchers and the Alberta construction industry, stimulating practical discussion targeted at improving the state of practice, innovation, and competitiveness of the Canadian construction industry,”

IRC board chair Paul de Jong, president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, said: “Canada’s construction industry can only benefit from this type of robust engagement between academic research and real-world project-level application – especially as it relates to improving productivity and efficiency”.

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