Feature Stories

Bridging Construction Management and Computer Science: Translating Classroom Theory into Real-World Solutions

Carlos Caldas pointing to projected image during presentation

Construction engineering and project management Associate Professor Carlos Caldas develops and tests 3D modeling algorithms with his team.

Associate Professor Carlos Caldas focuses on essential challenges related to data, information, and knowledge management in construction engineering and project management, which have far-reaching implications and benefits to our society. “Improvements in project execution have broad and long-term consequences,” says Caldas.

In recent decades, infrastructure and construction sectors have swiftly moved toward globalization; however, rapidly evolving regulations, heightened standards, and increasing project complexities complicate this shift. Caldas fuses his knowledge of civil engineering, construction management, and computer science to bridge the gap between the challenges of computational research and the applied aspects of civil engineering and construction.

Three main, interrelated themes of research occupy much of his work: 1) intelligent and automated construction job sites; 2) leveraging technology to improve construction processes; 3) knowledge discovery and transfer techniques.

Caldas is exploring the use of information, sensing, video computing, and spatial-temporal analysis technologies to automatically compare on-site conditions with applicable plans, standards, and specifications. His objective is to use integrated and automated data analysis to determine project status of construction operations. He plans to extend his future research to include “dynamic data analysis for proactive project controls, information fusion, pattern recognition in sensing systems, integration with simulation and optimization models, pull technologies for project information flow management, and building information models.”

In 2003, after earning his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (he earned his B.S. and M.S. in Brazil), Caldas joined faculty in CAEE. He was particularly impressed by “the quality and reputation” of the Construction Engineering and Project Management (CEPM) program. He received the Construction Industry Institute’s Researcher of the Year Award in 2009, honoring his research contributions.

At UT, Caldas and his team develop and test realtime 3D modeling algorithms; identification, localization and tracking technologies; computer-aided critical operations planning research; and automation feasibility analyses. Teaching students how classroom theory translates into real-world solutions is a key component of the program, says Caldas.

For more, please visit the website of Carlos Caldas.