Lecturer: Talent in construction management to embrace 4IR

A SENIOR lecturer in Malaysia says the construction industry is heading in the right direction in terms of digital technology and sustainability, albeit at a slow pace.

Dr Sujatavani Gunasagaran, 46, told the New Straits Times in an interview that students and graduates will play a crucial role in pushing the construction industry forward towards achieving the nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is, in part, thanks to construction management courses like Taylor's University's Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Sustainable Digital Construction Management, which will have its first intake in March 2023.

Dr Sujatavani has over 15 years of teaching experience at Taylor's University, and will be leading the new programme that equips students with sustainability approaches and advanced digital skills.

According to Dr Sujatavani, the construction management programme incorporates digital technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), laser scanning, drones, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing to help students embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and to fill the void of tech-savvy workforce in the construction industry.

"Students can experience the latest technologies in various modules with the support of Taylor's VORTEX XR Lab.

"This includes the usage of drones for progress tracking and virtual reality (VR) for immersive walking to detect defects at a construction site, mimicking technology already used in the construction industry," she explained.

Dr Sujatavani (second from right) conducting an experimental workshop using VR to experience spatial quality in buildings. - File pic credit (Taylor's University)

The programme is not only in line with the Construction 4.0 Strategic Plan (2021-2025) set out by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), but is also aligned with the competency standard by CIDB and the educational framework of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) that will set undergraduates on the path to becoming construction managers.

Graduates of this programme in 2025 will be at the forefront of supporting the implementation of 'disruptive technologies' such as prefabrication, radio frequency identification (RFID), pulsed radar object detection, smart wearables and AI - maintaining successful and effective site management that delivers on time, within the budget and meeting quality standards.

"Once students graduate, they will have the skills to support the digitalised construction industry. With programmes like this, the talent will drive the construction industry to adopt more 4IR strategies," she adds.

The programme is offering two specialisation areas where students will be able to choose between Green Construction and Smart Construction under their career aspirations in the area of construction management.

Green Construction has modules such as Green Technology in Construction and Innovative Construction Materials and Smart Building Systems that encourages energy saving, waste reduction, and recycling emphasising sustainability approaches.

Smart Construction modules introduce technology that can enhance construction management practices using IoT, Advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM) and extended reality in construction. 

The specialisations for this new programme are current and relevant for Construction 4.0.

The new Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Sustainable Digital Construction Management programme is designed to suit Gen Z students and their learning styles. Additionally, the programme facilitates a practice-led curriculum that is carefully supervised and advised by a panel of adjunct academics directly from the industry.

An industry advisory panel on the other hand will work closely to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between the board members to ensure industrial relevance is kept. They will also provide advice and assistance on curriculum development according to the latest needs, trends and employment skills of graduates.

"Students can choose to do a semester of internship or work-based learning, which gives them two years at the lakeside campus and one year of hands-on experience with our reputable industry partners such as Eco World Development Group Berhad and Green Quarter Sdn Bhd," said Dr Sujatavani.

Job opportunities include the new and emerging need for prominent tech-savvy managers such as digital construction managers, green building construction managers, BIM technicians, smart technologists, site, health and environment managers, in addition to the conventional construction managers. 

In line with Taylor's Curriculum Framework, Dr Sujatavani believes the next generation of talent graduating from this programme will be well-equipped with digital aptitude, personality, acquired skills and industry knowledge.

"The modules we provide lean towards digital technology, which is easy for them. Whenever we introduce new software, they are able to pick it up in a day or two, learn it on their own and produce results," she said.

Apart from being digitally savvy, Dr Sujatavani says that characteristics like good organisational skills and leadership skills, as well as effective communication skills will also help students excel in the industry.

Interested to find out more about Taylor's University and its new programmes? Find out more on its website.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories