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Professor Albert Chan delivers the Keynote at the August Construction Management Colloquium at the C4SMC

There are interesting parallels between the Construction Management Programs at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University and Western Sydney University. Both have grown with their local economies.

Prof. Albert Chan, Chair Professor and Head, Building and Real Estate at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Professor Chan was the guest of the Centre for Smart Modern Construction’s academic colloquium held at University’s Parramatta Campus in August.          Albert’s visit was part of an Australian construction industry goodwill tour where he shared with us his department's research, job opportunities in HKPolyU for PhD graduates and potential research collaborations in Hong Kong. He also took the opportunity to talk about the CIB World Congress 2019 (opens in a new window) which will be hosted at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University(PolyU) (opens in a new window) is a public university located in Hung Hom, Hong Kong.The history of PolyU can be traced back to 1937, and it assumed full university status in 1994. Professor Chan outlined how the Building and Real Estate program had grown with Hong Kong. The Faculty of Construction and Environment achieved 10th in the subject of civil and structural engineering, according to the QS World University rankings in 2017, amongst the many prestigious academic achievements for which it has been internationally recognised.

Western Sydney University’s Construction Management (opens in a new window) program celebrated 25-years since inception in 2017 and concurrently launched the Centre for Smart Modern Construction – c4SMC to invigorate the University’s resolve to achieve a leadership status for the program in Australia as it benefits from unprecedented growth forecasts in Sydney’s Western cities.

Prof. Chan holds MSc in Construction Management and Economics from the University of Aston in Birmingham, and a PhD in Project Management from the University of South Australia. He is a Chartered Construction Manager, Engineer, Project Manager, and Surveyor by profession. He was a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of the School of Building and Planning at the University of South Australia. Prof. Chan joined the Department of Building and Real Estate of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1996 and was Associate Head (Teaching) from 2005 to 2011; Associate Dean and Interim Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment from 2011 to 2013, and from 2013 to 2014 respectively.

Professor Chan provided an overview of the Building and Real Estate program’s growth to an academic team of 400 over the last 10-years, with current openings for 80 new academics now being filled. He outlined the range of salary packages, housing benefits and special allowances that the PolyU offered as part of its strategy to ‘tap the best to deliver the best’ in its quest of ‘opening minds and helping to shape the future’ for its graduates.

The PolyU’s strategy to help shape the best ‘future-ready’ career trajectories for its academics and graduates has many parallels with the University’s c4SMC initiative. Associate Professor Mary Hardie, Director of Construction Management Undergraduate Programs and Dr Sepani Senaratne outlined the recent c4SMC and program developments that were now being introduced at Western Sydney. They presented the Centre’s achievements over the last year and outlined the new research fields being initiated.

Another link between the PolyU and WSU is Dr. Robert Osei-Osei-Kyei who recently joined the Centre’s team. Before joining WSU, Robert worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Assistant and Academic Tutor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. Robert has a PhD in Construction Project Management, specializing in Public-Private Partnerships from PolyU. He has a BSc degree (First Class) in Construction Technology and Management from the Kwar University of Science and Technology, Ghana. Robert is a recipient of the Hong Kong Institute Surveyors’ Best PhD Thesis Award 2017 and the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme 2014/15.

Professor Chan’s visit provided an opportunity for two of the Centre’s researchers to present an overview of their work. Centre’s PhD Candidate Priyadarshini Das supervised by Professor Perera, Dr Senaratne and Dr Osei-Kyei presented her research project into Developing a Smart Modern Construction Enterprise Maturity Model for business scenarios leading to Industry. This work will examine the evolving enterprise typologies that can be observed in the modern construction market to see how they are adapting, what makes their business value propositions distinctive and how these business models perform compared to peers. The Centre’s research project in developing and Embodied Carbon Estimating methodology using Blockchain technology was presented by the PhD candidate Navodana Rodrigo. The project is supervised by Professor Perera, Dr Senaratne and Dr Jin.

PhD candidate Minh Tri Trinh also presented his work. He is supervised by Dr. Yingbin Feng and Dr. Xiaohua Jin. Tri’s research is investigating the relationship of factors that contribute to developing an ultra-safety culture in the construction industry. His objective is to provide insights into How to Become Ultra-safe Regardless of the Changing Complexity Levels of Construction Projects. PhD candidate Anthony Butera supervised by Professor Vivian Tam and Dr Le presented his research on Carbon-conditioned recycled aggregate in concrete production.

Industry Engagement Lead David Chandler outlined the industry’s attraction to the c4SMC theme of Joining up the Modern Construction Conversation to bring together the wide range of work that is being done across the industry. He referred to these comments being reinforced by the Centre Director Professor Srinath Perera at a recent Industry Roundtable (opens in a new window) where the Centre’s research team presented recently awarded scholarships. Professor Perera stressed to industry representatives at the Roundtable the need for collaboration.

A number of the Centre’s academic team will be presenting at the CIB World Congress 2019 in Hong Kong including newly arrived academic Dr Matt Stevens whose paper dealing with Mass Customisation in the Off-site Construction Manufacturing market has been accepted.

Professor Chan was very interested in the new areas of construction research (opens in a new window) being undertaken by the Centre and how the local construction industry was engaging and investing in these projects. Professor Chan’s visit to the Centre’s colloquium provided a basis for on-going engagement between the PolyU and Western Sydney University.

The future looks set to continue the many parallels and professional associations that both Professor Chan and Professor Perera believe will enhance the future of construction leadership they share.

Written by:
David Chandler OAM
Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University
12 October 2018