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Day 1 CII-CURT 2021: The Construction Industry’s Past, Present, and Future

By: Access Sciences

Day 1 CII-CURT 2021: The Construction Industry’s Past, Present, and Future

The Construction Industry Institute (CII) and the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) joined forces to host their first-ever joint conference, “Resilience Through Innovation.”

The event, which took place August 2 – 4 at the JW Marriot Orlando Grande Lakes, featured distinguished speakers who reflected on the past, analyzed the present, and envisioned the future of the construction industry.

Here’s what they had to say:


Stephen Mulva | Director, CII

Greg Sizemore | Executive Vice President, CURT

To kick off the conference, the organizations’ leaders joined the stage to welcome attendees and discuss the future of CII and CURT.


THE PAST: CII was established in 1983, and its mission is to improve business outcomes through an academically based, disciplined approach. Based at the University of Texas at Austin, the organization provides a research platform, which is meant to help drive innovative solutions within the construction industry.

CURT was created by construction and engineer executives from corporations across the globe in 2000. The organization provides a forum for the exchange of information, helping construction users create competitive advantage.

Since 2017, CII and CURT have partnered on several initiatives, including The Voice magazine, Operating System 2.0, and joint speaking engagements.


THE PRESENT: Today, CII and CURT are in the process of forming an alliance. According to Stephen and Greg, there are several reasons why the two organizations are moving forward with this:

– The alliance is consistent with both the CII and CURT missions.

– There would be better return on investment for members.

– CII and CURT have complimentary strengths.

– There are currently constrained member budgets and volunteers’ time.


THE FUTURE: Stephen and Greg picture a partnership where CII leads the knowledge and innovation-side of things while CURT leads deployment.

The next steps involve gaining final approval on the alliance from vested parties, including the CII Board of Advisors, the University of Texas, and the CURT Board of Directors. But (if and) when the alliance goes through, members will be able to enjoy the benefits of both organizations.


Ian Khan | Technology Futurist, Contributor, and Author, Forbes

According to Ian, the world is changing more rapidly than ever, especially when it comes to technological innovations. In a time of billionaires traveling to space, he challenges attendees to look at future trends in technology and act on them now.

THE PRESENT: Ian pinpoints several key challenges facing the construction industry today, which includes:

– Contractors’ financial health

– Continued risk due to the pandemic

– Cybersecurity risk

– Labor shortage

– Safety risk

– Technology adoption

Many of these challenges are new, recent disruptions to the industry. At this rate, Ian says people can expect to experience some sort of change every single day.

We’re currently experiencing the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” where humans and machines are coming together in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Ian hints that the technological advancements of today are key to combatting industry challenges and building a better future.


THE FUTURE: In addition to today’s challenges, Ian predicts key disruptors for the next 25 years and how these technological trends will impact the construction industry:

– Automation

– Algorithms

– Convergence

– Decentralization

– Experiential Living

– Mobility

– Tokenization

All of these trends are present in today’s world, but they’re only going to continue to advance and become a part of our everyday lives.

Ian encourages attendees to start thinking about and acting on these things, offering a few ways to do so:

– Blockchain Technology can help solve big challenges like delayed payments. It can be used to enable real-time payments which, according to Ian, will be big in the next few years.

– Artificial Intelligence will help job sites become more productive by analyzing enormous amounts of data, finding patterns, combinations, and relationships to make well-informed business decisions.

– The Internet of Things, which consists of all devices that collect and connect data, will advance to “Smart Cities.” The construction companies will be the ones to lay down these roads, buildings, and overall infrastructure that generates data. Everything will be automated, and everything will be connected.

– New Building Materials like self-healing concrete, 3D graphene, invisible solar cells (and much more) are being prototypes and tested today. Ian encourages those within the construction industry to be involved and find out which ones are best.


William Southerland | Staff Construction Manager, Transmission & Gulf of Mexico, The Williams Companies, Inc.

Daniel Groves | Director of Strategic Initiatives, CURT

Timothy Taylor | Terrel-McDowell Chair Professor of Construction Engineering and Project Management, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Civil Engineering University of Kentucky

Paul Goodrum | Professor and Department Head, Department of Construction Management Colorado State University

The group joined the stage to discuss current construction workforce trends and how attendees can help change those trends moving forward. Based on what’s happening right now, they visualized what the 2030 workforce is going to look like in three different areas: Technology, Skills of the Workforce, and Culture of the Workforce.


THE PRESENT: Today, there’s a lot of untapped technology in the workface. While other industries are investing in the human and technology interface (like the medical industry), construction is currently lagging in this specific tech area.

When it comes to the workforce’s skills, craft workers are increasingly becoming multiskilled, meaning they’re certified in more than one trade.

This trend is replacing mobility within the construction workforce, which the group attributes to the rise in dual-income households.  With more than 80% of households now dual income, those within the industry are less likely to change locations.

In terms of workforce culture, the group’s research found that the construction industry ranks lower in five areas (respect, productivity, professionalism, derogatory comments, and reliable co-workers) than general industry in the U.S.

This is a big issue facing the workforce because younger generations are less likely to accept that. So, without culture change, the younger generation isn’t likely to stick around – an issue already facing the industry today.

There’s also a major mental health issue facing the construction workforce. Suicide rates are four to five times higher than the jobsite fatality rate. The rates are also twice as high as the veteran suicide rate.

The group encourages attendees to be a part of changing these trends, offering ways to improve.


THE FUTURE: To move forward and better things for the future, the group offers takeaways to consider and act upon.

– Technology: Ask, “How is technology going to change our work environment?” Rather than gravitating towards the new, shiny piece of tech, make sure it adds value. Investments should focus on the human and technology interface, making work easier for those on jobsites.

– Skills of the Workforce: Ask, “How are we going to design our projects once our workers are multiskilled?” It’s clear that increased multiskilling and decreased mobility are trends that are going to continue. So, it’s time to consider how to leverage that while continuing to deliver client projects.

– Culture of the Workforce: Adopt QPR (suicide prevention) training, so that employees are equipped to have conversations around mental health on the jobsite. The group also recommends using Restoring the Dignity of Work’s advocacy document, which provides the tools (the data) needed to back up lobbying efforts.


Ernie Maschner | Vice President, Global Water, Victaulic

Menzies Wilson, Director, Office of Cost Management, U.S. Department of State

David Bullard, Senior Director, Product & Industry Strategy, Oracle USA, Inc.

In this presentation, the group focused on the workforce shift to offsite construction, which is defined as performing a portion of work in an offsite facility while final assembly and installation are performed onsite.

Ernie, Menzies, and David share a People, Process, and Technology Roadmap, a maturity model, and scoring tool for successful offsite construction.


THE PRESENT: According to the group, research shows the future of construction is moving offsite – this can be a facility a few miles away from a jobsite, a regional facility that supports multiple projects in multiple states, or an international facility that services the entire globe.

The group cites several reasons why these offsite options are compelling to construction companies, including:

– Improved identification of shortcomings and needed capabilities

– Framework for continuous improvement and risk reduction

– Ability to assess, benchmark, and track progress

– Better workforce planning and management

– Increased competitiveness

The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the use and reliance of offsite construction because of the controlled environment, making it easier to manage workforce.


THE FUTURE: After introducing the shift to offsite construction, the group shared ways to gain the most value from it through a People, Process, and Technology Roadmap.

In regard to the People element, they recommended three key training areas that can benefit offsite construction:

– Design and Engineering (e.g., fabrication package creation and detailing skills)

– Construction and Fabrication (e.g., knowledge on good manufacturing practices)

– Administrative (e.g., knowledge on process streamlining)

They also cite key benefits for the offsite construction workforce like a smaller crew size, a higher retirement age, enhanced working conditions, and more.

To address the Process element, they predict the characteristic shifts we’ll see in offsite construction by 2030 like:

– A shift from permanent structure to portable/relocatable structures

– A shift from customized components to standard components

– A shift from single-skilled labor to multi-skilled labor

In addition, they shared a sample case study to demonstrate the Process benefits of offsite construction, which includes a 50% reduction of safety incidents, a 20-30% increase in quality, and a 40% increase in time savings.

Lastly, they cover the Technology element of the roadmap, sharing offsite construction’s current tech trends (2020) and future trends (2030). 3D printing, laser scanning, automation, and BIM are all examples of technologies used today.

However, the ones to look out for and invest in for 2030 are different. Remote monitoring, smart sensors, artificial intelligence interface, and extended reality are the technological trends we can expect to see more and more of as we approach the next decade.


Stay tuned for our next blog on Day 2 of CII-CURT 2021: The Construction Industry’s Past, Present, and Future.

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