Seeking the best and the brightest for construction
The best and brightest are needed in construction
By Jeff Winke
The construction industry includes people who create 3D digital models of a construction site, operators of technologically advanced million-dollar machines that use GPS control to achieve graded surfaces that are measured in millimeters and workers responsible for accurately mapping the uneven features of a raw construction site using satellite navigation systems, inertial measurement and laser scanning. Today, the best and brightest are needed in construction, and contractors are seeking just that.
Understanding the demand for qualified workers in the construction fields, Topcon Positioning Systems Inc., a developer and provider of technologies and products for the survey and construction markets, has developed outreach and partnership programs to help schools and colleges attract more students and to equip them with the latest technology, so their students graduate with experience using state-of-the-art products.
The Topcon Educational Partnership Program (EPP) is missioned with helping educational institutions by providing discounted Topcon products for instruction, as well as learning tools to aid in educating the future generations of surveyors, engineers, precision agriculture and construction professionals.
Recently, EPP partners were invited to tour an interactive demonstration and education traveling solutions center and view collections of products, systems, software and technology that showcase where construction has come and where it is heading. The Topcon Technology Roadshow conducted a 24-city tour of North America, spanning a 23,000-mile circuit. The intent was to bring products and training close to those who can benefit from it.
The 52-foot long mobile solutions center, along with pop-outs and adjunct tents, functions as the hub for presenting the latest positioning technologies in the construction, surveying and GIS, architecture, engineering and construction professions. The new, mobile classroom within the customized 18-wheeler trailer seats more than two-dozen visitors and not only allows for centralized demonstrations of the latest Topcon products and technologies, but is designed for interactive training sessions as well.
Technical colleges and university-level technical programs have been invited to participate in the two-day visits. Counselors, instructors and students have opportunities to rub shoulders with site surveyors, 3D model builders, earth-movers and milling and paving contractors who are coming to see the latest technology and solutions for their evolving needs.
“I have 24 students about to graduate from our heavy-duty-equipment technician apprentice program who I asked to join me at the Toronto visit of the Technology Roadshow, and 18 made it,” stated Tim Allan, an instructor at the School of Transportation at Centennial College in Toronto. “They loved seeing all the technologies in the display trailer and thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on machine control demonstrations that went on in the field. I was happy that they were asking the Topcon people good, challenging and technical questions rather than just commenting on the operations.”
Allan learned about the Technology Roadshow from one of his students who read about it in a construction trade magazine. "Having access to the latest products and seeing demonstrations of how critical real time data is used for the successful completion of construction projects made their attendance worthwhile," Allan said.
Thomas Baden, instructor for heavy equipment operation at the Perry Campus of Hocking College, located in New Lexington, Ohio, was accompanied by two other instructors and 15 of their students when they attended the Columbus, Ohio, roadshow.
“It was amazing to see the newer technology and how comprehensive Topcon’s offering is,” Baden stated. “My students—in fact, all of us—are still talking about it. The Roadshow was worth it if only to see how the GPS system controls the machine to achieve grade. This opened our eyes to how extensive the technology is.”
At the Charlotte Technology Roadshow, Joshua Aldridge, instructor for the heavy equipment operator program at Stanly Community College, located in Albemarle, North Carolina, attended the event with nine of his students.
“My students were surprised to see all the technology out there and how machines working on a site can be linked to a supervisor on the site and to an off-site office,” Aldridge said. “I didn’t realize how precise the grade control technology has become, and it seems like the cost for a system has come down a bit from a few years ago.”
Topcon’s EPP and Technology Roadshow are steps in the effort to attract high caliber workers to the construction industry and change the perceptions of those who influence career choices.
About the Author
This content has been republished with the permission of NCCER and the publisher.