Construction conference to examine how education, research and training sector is working in collaboration with industry

by | Nov 13, 2022


Worldwide, the construction industry has evolved significantly in recent years with a reorganisation of traditional teams, the arrival of disruptive technologies, a more complex regulatory environment and the requirement for a wide variety of new competencies.

The dramatic evolution in the sector is being driven by the need to increase productivity and competitiveness, the need to meet the challenges of accelerating climate action, environmental issues and the need for a vast improvement in sustainability.

To meet these challenges, the Irish construction sector must evolve in a number of ways with a stronger focus on research and development; adoption of new methods of construction; the digitisation of the construction process from beginning to end; an increased emphasis on multi-disciplinary team working.

The ultimate goal is to ensure the emergence of a strong “Next-Generation Construction sector” in Ireland. Meeting this goal is vital for the success of the National Development Plan, which over the next 10 years envisages a spend of €165billion on new housing and infrastructure to help meet the objectives of Project Ireland 2040, to accommodate an additional one million people on the island.


The success of the construction sector over the next decade and beyond is dependent on the adoption of a wide range of recent developments which include: Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) such as off-site construction and robotics, Digital Adoption for construction such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), augmented reality and robotics and New Technologies and Policies for Sustainability.


The widespread adoption of these and other new developments by companies in the construction sector in Ireland is critically dependent on the provision of a sustainable and diverse human capital pipeline.

Individual employees, as new entrants or those already within the sector’s workforce will need to possess a wide variety of new skills, talents and knowledge. In addition next-generation construction relies heavily on multi-disciplinarity team-working between construction professionals at all levels and from a wide range of professions and disciplines.

The Education, Training and Research sector in Ireland needs to evolve in collaboration with the Construction sector to help deliver this human capital pipeline, which in turn will enable Irish construction companies to thrive in an era of rapid change.

The Irish construction sector must evolve in a number of ways with a stronger focus on research and development


The overarching theme of this conference is to examine how best the education, research and training sector in Ireland working in collaboration with industry, can act as a key enabler of the success of next generation construction in Ireland. The conference objectives are:

• To assess the likely evolution of the construction industry over the coming decade and beyond that would enable the identification of the key skills, knowledge and research needed to underpin this evolution.

• Provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge and practice focused on the Conference Theme above, amongst professionals from across education and industry.

• Develop a series of key recommendations on how best the education, research and training sector in Ireland, can support the emergence of a vibrant Next-Generation Construction sector in Ireland, particularly leveraging the Build Digital Project and the Construction Technology Centre.

• Prepare and disseminate a conference report with recommendations for action to industry, higher education, policy-makers, government, industry representative organisations and professional bodies.


A range of speakers will address this conference theme, using the examples of innovations and best practice drawn from the areas of MMC, Digital Adoption and New Technologies and Policies for Sustainability.

The conference schedule is deliberately designed to provide for substantial audience involvement and discussion time, along with networking opportunities over breaks and lunch.

This conference is aimed at wide audience that includes higher education, training and research organisations; companies in the construction industry; along with state organisations involved in policy development and coordination for the construction sector and construction related industry representative organisations and professional bodies.

Please contact [email protected] for more information


9.30–10.00 Registration

Welcome from President of the Royal Irish Academy, Mary Canning MRIA
Keynote ministerial address: Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Introduction by Conference Chair: Orla Feely MRIA, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact and Professor of Electronic Engineering, University College Dublin; Past- President, Engineers Ireland

11.00–12.30 Session I: Modern Methods of Construction (Mmc)
Chair: Professor Aoife Ahern, Dean of Engineering University College Dublin
Speaker 1: Professor Richard Buswell, Professor of Building Systems and Engineering and Hybrid Concrete Printing Group lead, Loughborough University
Speaker 2: Martin Searson, Founder and CEO Quality Positive Ltd
Panel discussion with above speakers plus panellists
• Claire Lane, Associate Director, LMC Group Ltd
• Professor Gerry Byrne, UCD
• Marchant van den Heever, Technical Director, Harcourt Technologies Ltd

13.30–15.00 Session II: Digital Adoption for Construction
Chair: Dr Avril Behan, Project Director for Build Digital, TU Dublin
Speaker 1: Dr Tara Brooks, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast
Speaker 2: Joseph Mady, CEO, Digital Construction Technologies Group
Panel discussion with above speakers plus panellists
• Dr Elisabeth O’Brien, Digital Academy for the Sustainable Built Environment, Technological University of the Shannon: Midwest
• Emma Hayes, Managing Director, Digital Built Consultants
• Sarah-Jane Pisciotti, Head of Design, SISK Group

15.15–16.35 Session III: New Technologies And Policies For Enhanced Sustainability
Chair: Brian Norton MRIA
Speaker 1: Orla Coyle, Programme Manager, Public Sector and Regulatory Programmes, SEAI
Speaker 2: Sarah Miley, Apprenticeship and Public Policy Partnering, Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Panel discussion with above speakers plus panellists
• Professor Jamie Goggins, Co-director, Construction Technology Centre, Established Professor, University of Galway
• Lorraine Fitzgerald, Head of Sustainability, Glenveagh Properties PLC
• Mark Courtney, Managing Director, H ouse2Home Refit Ltd

16.35–17.00 Closing Discussion: Summaries, Key Themes and Outcomes
Led by the Conference Chair and Session Chairs

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