On-Site Magazine

Algonquin College receives CFI Research Award to help contractors, business owners and homeowners

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April 16, 2013 by Staff Report

The construction process is very complex and its intricacies can cause delays, cost inefficiencies and waste. For example, manual change order systems hinder productivity and increase costs as requests travel up the line of authority to the client, and then back to the tradesperson who now has to fix the deficiency. What if the contractors were all working through a secure digital portal, accessible through a handheld device, which enables all decision-makers to respond promptly and approve the change order within hours instead of days or weeks?

Developing this type of technology is a major focus of the Algonquin College Applied Research proposal Enhancing the Building Industry through Analytics and Next Generation Collaboration, which has received an $800,000 award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) through the College Industry-Innovation Fund (CIIF).

“I am thrilled that the College is being recognized by the Canada Foundation for Innovation with this award,” says Dr. Mark Hoddenbagh, director, applied research and innovation. “Applied Research supports local business innovation and offers students applied, hands-on learning opportunities working with real-world clients on cutting-edge products and ideas. Algonquin College is ‘The Connected College’ and, as part of that vision, we will create inter-professional linkages between different construction disciplines that traditionally have not worked closely together.”

The funding will integrate the capabilities of the Algonquin College Design Centre, which researches user experience design, and the Full Spectra Centre, which enhances applied research in spectra-based technologies and supporting disciplines such as photonics, wireless communications, and smart electrical grid technology. Alexander Yang, project manager for the College’s Construction Research Centre, will lead this construction and building science-focused proposal with a goal of helping companies maximize the efficiency of building design and implementation by employing a continuous integrated design, construction and renewal approach. This means contractors working on different projects with different goals can collaborate by tracking and coordinating change orders through a digital environment, resulting in an integrated and more efficient approach to construction.

The research would also look at how monitoring and cataloguing environmental data through building sensors and smart grid technology can ensure effective and efficient building management. Alex and his team of faculty and students hope to use their findings to provide applied research and development leadership to the building science, construction and trades sector.

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