MPM Course Looks at Construction Technology in a Global Context

Cristina Popa (MPM '21) reflected on her own experience in the course and the lessons she learned that will help her move forward.

Switzerland has been named the most innovative country in the world 10 years in a row by the United Nations Global Innovation Index. Cristina Popa (MPM '21) lived in Switzerland for seven of those years, and during that time she served as a water resources engineer and designed a hydraulic model for the city of Lausanne, located along the northern shores of Lake Geneva.

Despite the country's track record for innovation, Popa discovered that when it comes to new technology in the construction industry, Switzerland lags behind. Popa examined this disconnect last quarter as part of Information Technology in Construction, where she and her Master of Project Management (MPM) classmates looked at technology and its implementation in one of four countries: Switzerland, Japan, China, or India.

They presented their findings during a webinar in conjunction with BuiltWorlds — a research-driven, member network at the intersection of the built industry and technology — on December 16.

“Having worked in Switzerland, I had an insider's perspective on the topic, but this project allowed me to place my own experience in a global context,” Popa said. 

In her presentation, she discussed how Switzerland has been slower to adopt building-information modeling (BIM) compared to other European countries. BIM (which makes it possible for buildings to be rendered digitally to more efficiently design, build, and operate the actual building itself) has been a game-changer within the construction sector. Now construction and architecture degree programs in Switzerland teach courses on BIM.  

Automation is another area of focus within Switzerland's construction field.

Seeing the differences in technology from one country to another fascinated Popa, giving insight on why certain strategies worked in specific countries and how, if at all, they could be implemented in other locations.

“I am definitely more aware of the multitude of technological solutions available,” Popa said. "There are so many technological tweaks to make work more efficient, and it is important to be open to trying them out.”

Other valuable lessons included seeing how technology continues to evolve, and the different ways construction businesses use the advantages this technology creates. This puts Popa on the cutting edge of what is possible in the industry.  

“The course highlighted the multitude of technological options available today to make work in construction and project management more efficient, from the design through the construction stage of a project,” Popa said.

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