From March 9-12 in Arlington, Virginia, faculty and students from the Vecellio Construction Engineering & Management Program at Virginia Tech co-hosted the first-ever ASCE Construction Institute (CI) & Construction Research Congress (CRC) Joint Conference. After over two years of planning, this conference brought together over 500 academic and industry professionals to explore how engineering practices, project delivery methods, policy, and technology are reshaping the construction industry in the 21st century. The conference featured technical presentations, plenary sessions, workshops, networking opportunities and receptions that facilitated wide-ranging discussions among academic and industry experts about finding real solutions to the top challenges in the construction industry.

Dr. Mike Garvin co-chaired the Joint Conference with Dan Becker of D. Becker Consulting. “This inaugural joint conference exceeded our expectations. Foremost, it was very refreshing to be with each other again. The technical sessions included many excellent presentations of leading-edge research, and the interaction among faculty, students and industry professionals during breaks and receptions brought old friends together and started new relationships,” Garvin commented. CI Executive Director Katerina Lachinova and CI Staff Monica Bradford and Rachel Settle played an integral role in the conference’s planning and implementation. “Quite simply, this conference would not have happened without Katerina’s leadership and commitment,” Garvin said. “Monica and Rachel also contributed tremendously to the conference’s success. Working with them all was a pleasure.”

The CRC Technical Program included nearly 400 presentations in areas ranging from infrastructure sustainability and resilience to health, safety and workforce issues to advanced technologies and data analytics. Dr. Farrokh Jazizadeh and Dr. Tripp Shealy were co-chairs of the CRC Technical Committee that included 26 colleagues from 18 different universities. The Technical Committee managed the peer review process of over 400 conference papers. “Thanks to the efforts of our track chairs and reviewers, we were able to meet all ASCE deadlines, so the conference proceedings were published by the start of the conference,” said Jazizadeh. “This was our intention from the outset, and I am quite pleased that we met this objective.” 

Additionally, a cohort of VCEMP graduate students provided administrative and technical assistance throughout the conference. These students ensured that each technical session in the conference ran smoothly. “Our graduate students stepped up however they were needed” said Shealy. “These students did a phenomenal job of representing our program, the department and Virginia Tech. I am really proud of them.” Garvin added. MBP also treated the students to an evening out where the students and MBP representatives mingled in a local pub. 

“The feedback from conference attendees was very positive,” Garvin commented. “This model of co-hosting with the Construction Institute has many advantages. I am not surprised that it will continue in 2024 when we gather again for dialogue and fellowship.”