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Mar 1, 2007

Building on IT

Publication: Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering
Volume 21, Issue 2
Researchers and practitioners interested in the application of information technology (IT) in civil engineering gathered in large number at the Delta Centre-Ville Hotel in Montreal, Canada, on June 14–16, 2006. Indeed, the event, the Joint International Conference on Computing and Decision Making in Civil and Building Engineering, brought many people together.
The purpose of this conference was to assess the current adoption of IT in the construction industry and—more important—to provide a glimpse of where IT research and development will steer the construction industry. The theme of the Conference was “Building on IT” because this word play provides an all-encompassing and forward-looking title; because, more and more, the planning, designing, constructing, and operating of facilities rely on IT; and because the next generation of IT was presented and discussed at the conference and in its proceedings.
The title of the Conference has the qualifier “Joint” to reflect the convergence of five independent streams of conferences coming together. It was the first time that so many streams of conferences in this field met at the same time. These streams are the following:
ICCCBE-XI: 11th International Conference on Computing in Civil and Building Engineering;
ICCC-ASCE: 2006 International Conference on Computing in Civil Engineering, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers;
DMUCE-5: 5th Conference on Decision Making in Urban and Civil Engineering;
CIB-W78: 23rd Conference on Information Technology in Construction; and
CIB-W102: 2nd Conference on Information and Knowledge Management in Construction.
The convergence of these five conference streams provided a unique opportunity for professionals and researchers who were interested in computing and decision making in a wide range of civil and building engineering disciplines to come together. It also furnished an opportunity to reflect on the research community, which appears to be as fragmented as the industry to which it is devoted.
ASCE played an important role in organizing this conference and participating in it. The annual Conference on Computing in Civil Engineering sponsored by ASCE moved north of the border for the first time in its history and joined the other four conference streams at this Joint Conference. Hani Melhem, the coeditor of this journal, played a key role in promoting the conference and initiating the partnership with ASCE. The ASCE Technical Council on Computing and Information Technology (TCCIT) was actively involved before and during the conference. Several of its members proposed and organized conference sessions and actively participated in the technical program. Also, several annual committee meetings were held at the conference: the Executive Committee, the Intelligent Computing Committee, and the Education Committee. In addition, the ASCE Construction Research Council, the Global Center of Excellence, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering met during the conference.
A total of 465 participants from 40 different countries attended the conference: 225 participants came from the Americas (98% from North America), 129 from Europe, 95 from Asia and Australia, and 16 from the Middle East and Africa.
The topics of the conference covered a large spectrum of the civil engineering discipline. The conference included 70 sessions presented in nine parallel tracks during three full days. The sessions per field of applications were distributed as follows:
Construction: 24 sessions;
Infrastructure: 16 sessions;
Building: 14 sessions;
Structure: 12 sessions;
Transportation: 8 sessions;
Earthquakes and other disasters: 5 sessions;
Bridges: 2 sessions; and
Environmental engineering and hydrology: 2 sessions.
In technological topics, the sessions were distributed as follows:
Design support: 14 sessions;
Information and knowledge management: 8 sessions;
Product and process modeling: 8 sessions;
Simulation: 7 sessions;
Collaboration support: 5 sessions;
Decision support systems: 3 sessions;
Augmented and virtual reality: 3 sessions;
Monitoring and sensing: 2 sessions;
Computer-aided education: 2 sessions; and
Mobile computing: 1 session.
Because of the vast number of papers presented, providing an overview of all that was presented at the joint conference would be impossible. Rather, the reader is referred to the proceedings, which are freely available on the Internet at ⟨⟩. Some highlights are described in the following paragraphs.
There were four keynote speeches at the conference. Thomas Froese, professor at the University of British Columbia, gave an exhaustive outlook on current research in construction being carried out across Canada. Martin Fischer, professor at Stanford University, showed how four-dimensional modeling has been used in actual projects, as well as where its new developments are heading. Arto Kiviniemi, chief research scientist at VTT in Finland, gave an overview of the development of the Industry Foundation Classes (a standardized building information model) and furnished an update on where this model is heading. Finally, Antonio Antunes and Maria Da Conceicao Cunha, both professors from the University of Coimbra in Portugal, presented the latest trends on optimization and planning of infrastructure.
Of the 70 sessions offered at the conference, some stood out compared with the typical offerings at computing conferences. The large number of papers submitted allowed papers to be regrouped into interesting and specific sessions. For instance, there were four sessions on building information modeling, covering its use in practice as well as new developments; a whole session was devoted to the promising application of information modeling to infrastructure systems; two sessions discussed conceptual building and structural design support (a total of 12 papers, a number previously unseen); and three sessions were devoted to augmented and virtual reality and their application in civil engineering.
It was our wish that by organizing this Joint Conference, other regrouping of conference streams such as this one would occur in the future. We are glad that Professor Chimay Anumba from Loughbourough University, in the United Kingdom, has agreed to take on this challenge and regroup several conference streams again in 2010. At this moment, the conference streams that have tentatively agreed to meet then are the 13th ICCCBE, the ICCE-ASCE, DMUCE-7, CIB-W78; and additional ones may join. In the meantime, the next Conference on Computing in Civil Engineering sponsored by ASCE will take place at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, from July 25 to July 27, 2007.
The future is upon us. Many papers presented at the conference provided glimpses of the innovations to which the future is leading us. The test of time will tell which of the papers accurately foretold some of these innovations. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions and help of the Scientific Committee, the executives of the five conference streams, and the sponsors, as well as all the authors and participants that have made this event such a success. The organizers also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of ASCE and its members.

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Published In

Go to Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering
Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering
Volume 21Issue 2March 2007
Pages: 63 - 64


Published online: Mar 1, 2007
Published in print: Mar 2007


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Hugues Rivard
Professor and Conference Cochairman, Dept. of Construction Engineering, ETS, Montreal PQ, Canada. E-mail: [email protected]
Edmond Miresco
Professor and Conference Cochairman, Dept. of Construction Engineering, ETS, Montreal PQ, Canada. E-mail: [email protected]

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