Over the past year and more, the continued development of a one-of-a-kind institute for artificial intelligence (AI) in construction has taught Mani Golparvar-Fard several things. The most important lesson, however, is that there has never been a better time to bring together industry leaders in an institute that develops fundamental research to solve some of the industry’s most pressing problems. construction.
As the United States tries to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and formulate a new infrastructure effort, Golparvar-Fard said it’s time for AI and the construction industry to work hand in hand. the hand.
“What we have actually learned is that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in the construction industry,” said Golparvar-Fard, professor of civil and environmental engineering. “The industry used to think of AI-based solutions as a good thing, but now it has become a necessity. This sentiment has only intensified as entities attempt to streamline their engineering and construction activities during a period of remote workspaces, after which many industry leaders have realized that productivity in many work flow can be amplified.
Key points from the workshop on AI in construction
“Traditionally, capital has made its subscription based on data from the past, which is good. With IoT sensors, we see data from the present, or data as it happens, which is better. The area we’re talking about today is the idea of getting predictive or prescriptive analytics. The insurance industry pays tons of money in claims and it’s time for them to maybe pay some money in order to prevent claims or mitigate claims. I think there is a great opportunity for the insurance industry to be a partner … “
To meet this need, Golparvar-Fard and the Institute’s nine other organizers – including Illinois computer science professors David Forsyth, Julia Hockenmaier, and Derek Hoiem – spent time over the past year evaluating and organize ideas around this growing need for AI in the construction industry. The DPI and NSF-funded effort strengthened strategic partnerships with entities like EX3 Labs – a digital design and innovation company – and the Discovery Partners Institute.
One of the final steps in supporting this effort was to form the AI in Construction workshop, which the Institute hosted digitally on April 29-30.
Over 170 targeted attendees joined to strengthen collaboration between industry leaders from over 85 organizations – like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Turner Construction, Aon Insurance, Autodesk, Nemetschek, Oracle, etc. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. As Golparvar-Fard believed, now is the right time for three main reasons:
- AI has reached a solid level of maturity, making it easier for researchers to craft compelling reasoning for the benefit of construction work processes.
- An increasing amount of data in the industry is available and construction leaders want to extract and analyze it for new insights.
- New financing opportunities abound, as growing investment begins to flow into construction technology.
“We felt that the workshop brought people together around these opportunities because we all share the same vision,” Golparvar-Fard said. “We all want to have an impact on the safety, productivity and maintenance issues of the construction industry, and we believe there is no better place to do this than the Institute.
“But, wearing my construction hat for a moment, I know that real progress takes a solid plan to work well.”
The workshop tried to plan what to do next, first creating a community between the different participants. Once this foundation had been laid, the whole group focused on two main activities.
First, they came to understand the construction needs better through several different and very engaging workshops. Afterwards, participants got a much better idea of the kind of concepts that AI-based research activities could address and potentially lend themselves to larger-scale funding.
“Why should university AI get involved in construction?” It’s a source of innovation, because the AI issues that are really important to the industry – and not just routine – are different from the ones we’re good at, and that’s a big challenge for the community. academic, ”Forsyth said. . “It’s also a source of impact, because whatever good university AI can do will resonate in a huge industry. There will be major cost reductions, lives saved, work made easier.”
Then, they set out to define educational missions that will further propel these projects.
Golparvar-Fard said that in addition to identifying research opportunities, this effort focused on three main lessons on the educational component:
- The need for an AI training for executives, which sought to define what AI means in construction and how it can improve ROI for all stakeholders in the project.
- AI in Construction for Engineers, which asked industry experts how they can combine their efforts to get people already in the field to work and get them interested in new ways to adapt and improve their practices through AI-based methods and solutions.
- At a fundamental level, the preparation of our professional-level Masters level students who may come to the U of I to contribute to this effort. This includes designing a new masters program that serves as a hybrid of CS, CEE and tech entrepreneurship training to transform and produce a new generation of engineers at this campus who can have a solid engineering background. , who have strong management skills and who can be the contractors leading the change in construction going forward.
In addition, the Institute is planning two other workshops. The first will focus on AI in design, and the second on AI in operations / maintenance.
Each of the next two conferences will be open to anyone interested, which represents a change from this last conference which targeted participants previously identified by the Institute.
Those interested in participating should email Golparvar-Fard or call them at (217) 300-5226.
The Institute is also looking forward to expanding its research collaborations across campus with individuals like Randy Deutsch, professor at the School of Architecture.
“One thing that this campus has for strength is entrepreneurship,” Deutsch said. “Our Institute partners remain interested in collaborating outside of Grainger College of Engineering. The disciplines of this great university tackle real issues that arise daily for technology providers.
“Planning for the future together will lead to a new era of productive entrepreneurship in Illinois. “