c4SMC Industry investors are making a difference at Western Sydney University

We commence 2018 with some impressive achievements by the Centre for Smart Modern Construction. There is a lot to do, to ensure the right investment is made in preparing the next generation of constructors to be future-ready. This means ensuring that a committed academic staff has the resources to deliver what's needed. The Centre has now received commitments from industry to invest over $500,000 into the Construction Management program. It is firms like Hansen Yuncken and Weathertex that are stepping up to invest in the future of construction in Western Sydney.

The Centre for Smart Modern Construction (c4SMC) is an industry and University collaboration to invest in the readiness of modern construction graduates and the enterprises in which they will work. This involves an industry collaboration for common good where the collective benefit is more than any contributor could achieve alone. The Centre will leverage this investment and the anticipated construction activity in the Western Sydney and near regions over the next 20-years to foster a viable modern construction hub that can make a positive impact on the national industry and beyond.

Industry should be assured that this initiative is very different to the normal engagement with universities. It is impact focused. Key features include;

  • The highest priority is advocacy for the best student experience to be supported by the best academic teaching resources and recognition. Industry is looking for high achiever graduates i.e. constructors who can see and are prepared for tomorrow,
  • Industry investment to be spent strategically across a range of areas that have not been deployed systematically in the past. An Industry Advisory Group led by industry will govern the apportionment of expenditure to achieve the mission. All industry investment will be held in a c4SMC specific account. Expenditure will be authorised on a case basis and progress of activity monitored and reported.
  • c4SMC research will be directed towards areas that should make a difference within 3 to 5-years. The Centre's current research priorities respond to areas where the industry feels the most important challenges facing a transforming industry need to be better understood and disseminated. The Centre will hold a number of joint industry and academic round-tables each year where researchers will present the scope of their work, report on progress, engage with industry and receive and take notice of their feedback. The first round table is scheduled for July 2018.
  • The Centre will advocate for construction enterprises with a Western Sydney and near region priority. The objective is to press for opportunities where the best examples of modern construction can be proof tested and displayed. The intent is to establish a cluster of engaged construction related enterprises who want to network, share experiences, collaborate for certain projects and build towards a region that is regarded for a hub of smart modern constructors. The anticipated volume of construction planned for Western Sydney over the next 20-years is a unique opportunity to leverage industry investment in c4SMC towards this goal.

As David Borger, Western Sydney Director, Sydney Business Chamber said at the recent industry launch of c4SMC in November last year;

‘If you want to be part of the Western Sydney construction economy over the next 20 years this is the time to invest in building the industry’s capabilities for a smart modern construction future. If you want to be part of contributing to building those capabilities engage with the Centre for Smart Modern Construction at Western Sydney University’.

We urge all constructors and those businesses related to the industry to contact the Centre to invest in their industry's future. A modest collective investment by many will make large achievements possible that would not have been possible otherwise. Details of how to connect with the Centre are provided at the end of this article.
Progress since the Centre was launched in August last year is worth reporting;

The centre has announced the first two High Achiever Scholarships for undergraduates approaching the end of their studies.These are the first of a program that is planned to offer up to six scholarships each year by 2020. The eligibility criteria will be reviewed by Industry and the University to make these scholarships highly prized and recognised. The Construction Management program at Western Sydney will graduate more than 1500 constructors by 2025. Many achievers will compete to secure these scholarships.

Applications for this scholarship are now open (opens in a new window).

Eligibility - Continuing students in the Bachelor of Construction Management (CM)

Criteria - Applicants must: be Australian citizens or permanent residents, be currently enrolled in the third or fourth year of the CM program, have completed at least 160 credit points, have a minimum GPA of 5.0, and be able to demonstrate excellent communication skills and industry knowledge

Application and Selection Process - Applicants must provide a statement indicating how they believe the receipt of the c4SMC high achiever scholarship will assist them with their studies and in their future career. This statement should give a sufficient explanation of the applicant's background and current circumstances to enable the University to judge their eligibility, need and merit. Successful applicants will be selected based on their written application, academic potential, their ability to meet the criteria and, where appropriate, performance in an interview before a selection panel.

Representative c4SMC investors will be involved with the selection process for these scholarships. Industry is increasingly looking to identify future achievers, early. The c4SMC high-achiever program will fill a number of important Centre objectives that will be fed back to the Advisory Group and the University.

The Centre has committed to fund $200,000 for the first industry prioritised research projects. These projects will be directed towards new modern construction knowledge gathering and applications that can have a measurable impact in the industry in 3 to 5-years. They include research into areas where new evidence based insights are most needed. They will investigate how the modern construction era can;

  1. Deploy modern construction technologies to unify the collection of building compliance and assurance data to more cost effectively deliver reliable and sustainable buildings. The centre will look to develop leading edge thinking and solutions that could help industry to achieve a future-fit regulatory and compliance framework.
  2. Develop universally applicable measures to observe modern construction effectiveness in practice to provide clients and constructors with quantifiable evidence and benchmarking tools. The industry knows that measurement is the key to differentiating the leaders from the rest as new construction methods displace old ones.
  3. Investigate the changing nature of construction related enterprises as they embrace the modern construction era to determine the key success factors and experiences that will define them in a future industry. The research will look for examples of successful modern construction enterprises who show-case the mix of value propositions, technologies, supply chain engagement and viable business metrics that can attract future investment to underpin their growth and continued success.
  4. Evidence the relationship that Modern Construction Enterprises should have in the delivery of Modern Construction Projects to improve their performance and effectiveness. The work will explore real time data management technologies to optimise project performance and identify those that deliver what is promised. The studies will investigate future work packing both off and on-site to inform the future skilling needs of a smart modern construction workforce. Key success factors will also be investigated deliver more assured and compliant projects, smarter, safer and faster.

The university has matched the industry investment in these PhDs with $160,000 in new funding and a further PhD that will examine carbon traceability to measure the actual embedded carbon being used in making buildings versus the theoretical ones. The Centre has successfully achieved the initiation of new research projects that would not have been possible otherwise. These projects provide the seed investments that will enable these new areas of research to grow into larger, impactful industry benefits.

During 2018, the Centre will be sharing the modern construction experiences of investors in c4SMC. We will be using these reports to showcase those enterprises investing in the the future success of the region. Importantly the Centre will aim to connect successful modern construction enterprises with others across the region and of course to connect those enterprises with high achiever future graduates.

Written by:
David Chandler OAM
Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University
14 January 2018