Reflections entering IRC year five

Chairholder, Dr. Aminah Robinson Fayek, reflects on IRC progress and future work planned for year five and beyond.

Dr. Aminah Robinson Fayek - 17 March 2016

As Chairholder, I play a critical role in balancing the needs of a group that, on the one hand, shares a mutual goal of improving the competitive performance and technological sophistication of the Albertan and Canadian construction industries, yet that also comprises organizations representing vastly different perspectives and that have varied goals associated with their individual participation in the IRC. Entering into its fifth year and backed by a dedicated partner base, the IRC has established a strong foundation of research and products, all of which will ensure a productive beginning to the 2017-2021 renewal term. Even as the program continues to mature and evolve, I remain conscientious of new opportunities for growth. Each year has provided new insights that have contributed to the advancement of my knowledge and skills as program leader, inasmuch as they have helped to improve communication among the group and to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the IRC's research.

While the past four years have revealed that successful outcomes for the IRC can take many forms, an environment of active collaboration has been essential in maximizing the value delivered to our stakeholders. The feedback that we receive from our industry partners helps us to understand the way that their organizations interpret and apply the results of the program. Three to four times a year, the IRC's Management Advisory Committee comes together to discuss the strategic direction of the program and its projects; recommendations made by the committee allow us to better develop resources and present findings in a way that is most conducive to their successful uptake. In this edition of KeyNotes, we profile our newest Management Advisory Committee Chair, Paul de Jong, on his position as president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, in addition to discussing the goals and benefi ts of partnering with the IRC, as well as the value of a career in the Alberta construction industry (see page 3). The Management Advisory Committee Chair plays an integral role in facilitating group discussion and in promoting dialogue around industry needs.

During the past year, I was honoured to receive several awards for my scholarly work and other contributions to academia; see our awards summary on page 4. I would like to acknowledge the continued support of the IRC partner base and my hard-working academic team in helping to make these achievements possible through inspiring innovation in my work and challenging me to push boundaries as a researcher. I look forward to new accomplishments from our group in 2016 and beyond.

In the coming year, the IRC will focus extensively on knowledge and technology transfer. The IRC team is currently planning a workshop series for mid-2016, which will provide an educational opportunity for industry personnel to learn about the program's key findings from recent studies on labour productivity and organizational competencies; future workshops will showcase the software tools developed to support these studies (more details TBA at www.strategic-construction.ualberta.ca).

Looking ahead, I would like to take a moment to discuss our plans for the renewal term. Moving into 2017, the IRC will extend its current work on a number of projects areas, including risk analysis and modeling, productivity analysis and modeling, and construction organizational competencies and project performance; a strong focus will be placed on further enhancing software tools and other applied resources developed during the IRC's 2012-2016 term.

In the upcoming term, we also intend to kick off new projects to explore areas such as capital project productivity, modeling construction crew motivation and behaviour, and the development of an assessment framework to measure the impacts of research and development programs. Moreover, the IRC will continue to investigate the hybridization of fuzzy logic with artificial intelligence and other simulation techniques in order to enhance existing processes, systems, and tools in the aforementioned research areas. Propelled by the rigorous work of our academic team, the knowledge gained from past projects, and insights contributed by our base of new and continuing industry partners, the renewal term is sure to produce resources that are smarter and more powerful than ever before.

This piece originally appeared in IRC KeyNotes Issue 5 (March 2016).