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Beginning Post

posted May 27, 2010, 8:50 AM by Andrew McCoy   [ updated Jul 28, 2011, 8:49 AM ]
February 24th, 2011: Blacksburg, VA.  As part of teaching the graduate course Innovation in Construction, I have the joy of working with many talented students.  To set the stage, the course is seminar-based; 12 students read weekly articles and sit around for two-and-a-half hours discussing them.  Once per semester, one student is appointed to lead discussion for the group.  The student is required to propose questions, guide discussion, collect individual summaries of the articles from other students and, finally, draw conclusions.  This stage will be the beginning of posts, on this website, regarding group discussion and individual conclusions about innovation in the construction industry.

The following conclusions were drawn by the student leader.  The topic of the day was broad: we began thinking of examples of innovation, barriers to their adoption and needs of the industry.  In the interest of keeping this post brief, the group agreed on:

1. It can be argued that clients drive the market in the industry, this puts a large amount of importance on the education of the younger generations to understand what is possible in the industry and make the next wave of homeowners and business clients more apt to push for innovation in their future projects.
2. Ideas, trends, and market drivers in the industry are cyclical – just like fashion and art. This does not devalue an innovation that was recycled, it simply allows more opportunity for success.
3. Craftsmanship is an art, and while the market may swing towards it or away from it at times, it will always be appreciated.
4. It is imperative that we as young professionals entering the industry remember that we have a responsibility to our society in the way we go about doing business and building projects.
5. The construction industry has a much larger scope than that of the activities which occur on the jobsite, and though it may be difficult to quantify progress in these sectors of the industry, they all have an effect on the growth of the construction industry.
6. Innovation in the industry is sometimes developed by those with an outsider‘s perspective on things – the Crystal Palace was an example of how someone with a gardener‘s background can bring a different point of view and new ideas to design and construction.

More to come; stay tuned.