Oct. 29, 2020
CWU Construction Management Program Leaning on Technology More This Fall
Central Washington University’s Construction Management faculty has tried to be creative this fall when teaching their students about the latest industry technology.
Even before the pandemic, construction companies around the Northwest had begun to incorporate more virtual elements into managing their building projects. As the construction management profession has adapted to a more remote working environment, CWU has increased its focus on 360 technology, drones, virtual models, video conferencing, and virtual, mixed, and augmented reality.
Professor Warren Plugge believes the program has done a good job of staying current with what’s happening in the industry.
“By pulling more technology into our classes, our students get to see a whole other side to the job that most people don’t get to see,” said Plugge, who has been emphasizing the importance of virtual models and other recent innovations this quarter.
“It takes a lot of planning to get everyone on a job site to work together in an orchestrated way,” he added. “Construction managers use virtual models to create schedules, draw up plans, coordinate field crews, communicate, and take videos so they can make critical decisions about the risks associated with a project. We’re excited that we get to show our students how things are being done on an actual job site through the use of technology.”
The program’s use of 360 imaging technology also has increased this fall. Just this week, Plugge shared some 360-degree images of the new Health Sciences building with his lab class during a Zoom meeting.
Plugge says the program’s video equipment and software are similar to what many construction companies are using today, which helps students understand the concepts and applications for when they eventually need them in the field.
“We’re trying to advance the idea of what we call construction,” Plugge said. “Through the use of technology, we’re teaching our students how to do things as safely, economically, and efficiently as possible so they can take that knowledge with them into their careers.”
In addition to learning about the latest technology, CWU Construction Management students have been working to develop sustainable building methods — such as the utilization of pulverized glass in place of sand — for structural and civil projects. This quarter, Plugge and his lab students have been studying the structural effectiveness of pulverized glass versus sand when combined with concrete.
The research is just getting underway, but Plugge believes the results could prove influential in the industry as it shifts toward more sustainable building practices.
“It’s a relatively new concept and we don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said. “We hope to find out what the cost-benefit is when replacing sand with pulverized glass in concrete structures. But first, we have to find out if the mix can provide enough structural strength to replace sand."
Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, David.Leder@cwu.edu, 509-963-1518.