Skip to content Skip to navigation

Design Construction Integration

Unique Processes

Civil engineering structures provide few, if any, opportunities for mass production because of the unique production environment. This creates a special need for innovations in design and construction processes that are peculiar to this profession.

In most cases, planning, design, construction operation and maintenance are separated by disciplines and executed in phases, in an adversary environment and with little interaction between phases and disciplines. The vertical and horizontal fragmentation of the design/construction industry reduces quality and increases the life-cycle costs of the final product. Our research in this area, conducted in the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE), the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center and the Project-Based Learning Laboratory, is concerned with the structural engineering aspects of facility engineering, but from the viewpoint of integration with all other disciplines involved in the process.

Current areas of research

  • Development of knowledge-based systems to incorporate construction knowledge into the design process to improve constructibility.
  • Design, construction and performance of nonstructural components.
  • Development of probabilistic functions to simulate their performance based on structural response parameters.
  • Application of new sensing technologies based on micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) together with wireless communications and smaller and more powerful microprocessors to monitor construction operations in real time.
  • Development of new efficient structural systems that result in structures that have better performance and are easier to build, operate and maintain.
  • Advanced simulation and visualization of erection construction processes for the development of computer-assisted erection systems.
  • Development, testing, deployment and assessment of new workspaces and information technologies, processes, learning and work cultures and approaches to foster cross-disciplinary, multi-cultural, collaborative, geographically distributed teamwork and eLearning.

PBL (problem-, project-, product-, process-, people-based learning)

The master builder’s atelier in the information age is the vision behind the integrated research and curriculum in architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C) global teamwork program, which engages students from the Structural Engineering and Geomechanics, Construction Engineering Management and Design-Construction Integration Programs, in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Stanford. This program was established in 1993 and has evolved from an experimental Stanford course into a global learning network. The goal is to be a world leader in A/E/C global teamwork together with its university and industry affiliates. Its mission is to educate the next generation of professionals who know how to team up with professionals from other disciplines, and leverage collaboration and information technologies to produce higher-quality products more quickly, economically and environmentally friendly.

The PBL Lab and the A/E/C global teamwork program are based on a PBL pedagogical approach, where PBL stands for problem, project-, product-, process- and people-based learning. The objectives are to develop, test, deploy and assess radically new work spaces, information and collaboration technologies, processes, learning and work culture, and approaches for cross-disciplinary, collaborative, geographically distributed teamwork.

The core atom in the A/E/C Global Teamwork program (CEE222 A & B) is the A/E/C team. One of the innovative features of this program is the role each of the participants play: undergraduate students are apprentices to master's students who play the role of journeyman while faculty and industry practitioners play the role of mentors, owners and sponsors. Over the years, global affiliates have joined the program from Europe, Asia and the United States (for an updated list of members in the A/E/C Global Teamwork learning network, visit http://pbl.stanford.edu). All the A/E/C teams are geographically distributed over time, space and culture. This authentic learning experience exposes students to four challenges: cross-disciplinary project-based teamwork; use of information and collaboration technologies; team coordination; and collaboration over time, space and culture (please visit http://pbl.stanford.edu/AEC%20projects/projpage.htm to view the A/C/C project gallery).

The PBL Lab integrates cutting-edge information technology and mature research software prototypes developed at CIFE. It offers a wide range of information and collaboration technologies, such as video conferencing, video streaming, project Web portals, team discussion forums, building modeling, knowledge management, integrated project delivery, visualization and direct interactive manipulation workspaces and devices that support the activities, processes and product development of mobile knowledge workers and learners.