Arturo E.Schultz, Director of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Management, and Ibukun Awolusi, assistant professor of construction science and management, will serve as co-principal investigators on the ARISE project.
Jiannan Caiassistant professor in construction science and management, will be the principal researcher of the FAIR4WISE project.
ARISE and FAIR4WISE were two of 14 projects selected to receive funding under NSF’s Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program.
Researchers applying for funding had to demonstrate to NSF the potential to create new methods and technologies that will improve public health and welfare, increase worker safety, and open rewarding new careers in areas such as heavy construction, education and transport. Funding preference was given to institutions located in areas that have historically received less federal research funding.
ARISE is set to receive $1.8 million in NSF grants through fiscal year 2022. Researchers hope to create a safer and more commercially efficient construction process. Schultz and Awolusi will work with researchers from New York University and members of industry from the United States, as well as researchers from the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) to advance the research program.
“The complex and dynamic nature of the work environment in construction increases the safety and ergonomics risks for workers in steel erection, known to be one of the most dangerous trades,” Awolusi said. “ARISE is capitalizing on advances in innovation and technology to provide proactive and functional interventions to address this critical challenge and improve safety performance and efficiency of the construction workforce.
Schultz added that advanced manufacturing technologies have overtaken methods used on the steel supply side of construction.
“The ARISE project allows the research team to envision these techniques being extended to the field of automated construction using robotics to assemble steel buildings using innovative interlocking connections that are fabricated using ‘state-of-the-art manufacturing,’ Schultz said.
FAIR4WISE, an interdisciplinary project, will receive $551,353 in NSF grants in fiscal year 2022. Cai and his co-PIs, Yuanxiong Guo and Xiaohong Xu from UTSA’s Carlos Alvarez College of Business, will develop a framework leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and blockchain technologies to support and increase gender diversity in the construction industry of the future .
The team will work with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Penn State University, University of Houston, and construction industry partners.
Cai says the goal of the project is to study differences in how genders collaborate and tele-operate robots and to create methods for learning and tele-operating robots that are accessible and gender-equitable. .
“If successful, the developed technology ecosystem will help improve worker productivity, safety and health, and enable American workers to lead the way in reforming the construction industry in an inclusive manner. “Cai said.
ARISE and FAIR4WISE are representative of the college’s commitment to solving grand challenges where humanity intersects with the physical world, said JoAnn BrowningDean of Klesse College.
“I am thrilled to see such impactful research conducted by our faculty,” she said. “Klesse College is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle key issues of today and tomorrow. We are committed to solving grand challenges where humanity intersects with the physical world, whether on the streets in San Antonio or around the world.