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EPSRC iCASE Studentship in Human-Data Interfaces on Construction Projects

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering, Cambridge

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cambridge
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Competitive Salary
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 25th January 2024
Closes: 15th March 2024
Reference: NM40254

Within the construction industry, there are established legacy processes which predate the digital age.

These processes facilitate the delivery of projects and collate documentation for future reference. However, often, data is collected without structure or digitisation which hinders value creation from knowledge management and does not allow for big data analytics. Physical forms, unstructured excel and visual data (such as drawings and photos) form a large proportion of the information collected and used on construction projects.

At the same time, some of those digital tools intended to replace these manual methods are not designed with the users and realities of physical sites in mind making their adoption very hard. From feedback received through industry engagement, a significant barrier to the adoption of data-driven technology is that the interfaces are complicated, lengthy, and non-intuitive. Digital literacy among construction worksite employees is low, therefore, digital data capture processes are seen as a barrier and hinderance to normal operations instead of a value creator for the project.

This EPSRC iCASE-funded PhD project will develop modern systems of data capture to ensure data quality for the efficient management (and future improvement) of construction projects. This will include consideration of modern data science including ML (machine learning), AI (Augmented Intelligence), LLM (large language models) and design frameworks for human-data interfaces (human centric design, system thinking, UI/UX). The outputs of this project will increase the uptake of digital tools and data-driven processes in industry to facilitate more efficient decisions, ensure safety and reduce wastage.

-What are the critical data points captured on project sites and shared between project and organisational teams for knowledge exchange and continuous learning?

-What are the decision points on a complex delivery project?

-What are automatable tedious tasks that create cognitive fatigue to workers?

-How do we leverage modern digital design frameworks (e.g. UX/UI, software, human centred design) to improve human-data interfaces?

-What are the design principles and unique considerations for digital tools meant for construction workers?

-How much data collection can be automated or streamlined using visual and natural language interface/capture?

-How do we maximise quality of data collected? How does this look with off-site construction?

-How do we expediate the feedback loop between collection and visualisation/realisation of benefits?

-How do the data collection methods allow for flexibility and evolution of the construction project data landscape?

-What skills are needed by construction staff?

-What are the potential ethical considerations of automation?

EPSRC iCASE studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible UK students. Full eligibility criteria can be found via the following link; https://www.postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/fees/what-my-fee-status 

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in an Engineering or related subject.

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Applicant Portal www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/egegpdpeg, with Ioannis Brilakis identified as the potential supervisor.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

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