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PhD Studentship: The Sociotechnical Interface with Data in Construction: Aesthetics, Emotion, and Social Discourse

Loughborough University - Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,622 per annum (2023/24 rate) for the duration of the studentship plus university tuition fees.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 12th January 2024
Closes: 25th February 2024
Reference: ABCE24/DT5
 

The construction sector is embracing digital transformation as outlined in Construction 4.0, driven by promises of advantages that automation will bring to the delivery and maintenance of built assets. The interface between user and data is governed by data abstraction which necessitates that the functions of data systems remain hidden and opaque to the user, while presenting a convenient and accessible user interface. The quality and trustworthiness of data is often inferred by their robustness, completeness, timeliness, and availability. Yet their opaqueness leads us to approach data with fascination and awe on the one hand, and fear and distrust on the other. These complex and contradictory perceptions towards data are likely to intensify with the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In the form of project information, data allows users to make decisions on the project. In this sense, data could be conceptualised as boundary objects (Carlile, 2004), and the representations as facilitating a translation from design concepts to built realities (cf. Tryggestad, 2010). The flexibility offered by physical visual representation tools such as hand sketches allows participants to negotiate a conceptual ordering between items (Henderson 1991); whereas digital simulation tools such as BIM and IoT lack external references and therefore does not allow users to ground the information in real contexts (Scheer 2014).

This research project takes a sociotechnical approach to examine the interface between data and their users. In particular, the project interrogates the aesthetics, emotion and social discourse associated with data, and to explore our everyday experiences with data and datafication (cf. Saifer & Dacin, 2021) during construction project delivery. In doing so, the project sets out to define the vernacular of data and datafication in project settings, and to reconcile the conflicts created by data as closed systems of control and constrain and communications channels as democratised social networks.

This project is one of five PhDs in Digital Transformation. The successful candidate will be part of a growing community of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers and academics who are extending the boundaries of knowledge and delivering transformative solutions to real-world problems. The other projects in Digital Transformation are:

  • Automated productivity and performance monitoring for construction processes through semantic mapping of operational data using machine learning (ML) and digital twin (DT) technologies
  • Automating the circularity potential assessment in building retrofitting Automating asset management:
  • AI-driven approaches for enhanced efficiency
  • Multi-actor transformation of production in construction: the case of novel concrete

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

The School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering's studentship competition offers the chance for UK and International applicants who are interested in undertaking a PhD to have their full-time studies paid for.

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,622 per annum (2023/24 rate) for the duration of the studentship plus university tuition fees.

Studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have applied to advertised projects starting with the reference 'ABCE24'.

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