Curriculum for Lectures in Construction Department of an University in Taipei, Part1
Looking for a Splendid Career in Modern Construction Industry
A. Brief Introduction to modern construction industry, which shall include design & consulting firms, general contractors, specialty contractors, etc.:
1). A quick developing economy really needs good infrastructure to keep bustling, or to lose momentum. Consider the case in IT-savvy India, the dilapidated roads, ports, and power systems often slash several point GDP off every year while Japan, Asian tigers, and China seem not to be bothered by the inadequate or untimely establishment of infrastructure for their economic success.
2). The construction industry for its diversify nature will influences many related business, for example, a housing boom will boost and upgrade the demand of building material, construction machine and tools, furniture, and services like advertisement, and banking. On the other hand, when social and economic developments come up to certain points, the construction industry benefited from growth of other businesses. So they are co-requisite to each other.
3). Important government posts in young democracies need participation of civil engineers. Often they hold positions up to the cabinet level drawing national development plans for years and decades. It is the term “technocrats" applicable for those people that their expertise is hardly to be replaced under regimes of different ideologies. Possibly their political life will outlive the politicians promoted them.
4). However, construction people sometimes risked to become accomplices of those powerful stealing public money. It is because infrastructure contracts usually involve tremendous sums and require different sub tier companies to perform the works, so that the illicit money is easy to hide and their parking is handy. The harm can't be controlled as there are wicket foreign governments eager to provide unrestricted loans and aids in the name of infrastructure development to the unprincipled and unaccountable politicians for bad political intention.
Thus many developing countries with abundant resources can be end up in debt and poverty, the so called resource curses, because the politicians and their cronies will take every advantage of countries' limited fortune. Under the circumstance the money spent will never buy worthy and required infrastructure and civil work contractors are highly blamed. The bad story of construction conglomerate, Odebrecht of Brazil demonstrates the farce/tragedy in the past few years: presidents, premiers, ministers, parliamentarian, businessman and people of significant suicided, imprisoned, indicted in more than 10 countries.
5). Contractors always excuse the need to survive as the reason to be part of the kleptocracy, but the cruel truth is construction contracts can be lucrative, and most of the times flawless, under the coverage of the powerful. Systematic fraud will have devastated the entire economy and the civil engineers can be blamed as conspirators of the scam.
Professionalism should be the only antidote to fight the greedy and impunity behind the organized corruption. Ethic education has to be enforced since the early days of engineers training. Of course, it needs time and patience to take effect especially in a society of obscurity.
6). Taiwan escaped endemic corruption in the construction works usually seen in the developing world. There was time that people had to build everything from scrap with their own hands, the authorities then could only afford to subsist livings of thousands of surplus rural labor and retired soldiers withdrawn from Mainland in early 50's. Might be it's the reason that the administrative handling construction works were obliged to be clean.
7). Civil engineering is always considered as sort of physical science and employees or managers of construction companies required high degree of physical and mechanical knowledge; this is especially true in developing countries where tradition and common sense could be dismissed as redundancy soon to be discarded toward modernization.
But unlike manufacturing or IT industries, construction business has its origin and background attached to history, culture and custom of the vernacular country. It means people must understand that the contracts and the trading systems they are using can be functioning only when it has tight link with human affairs.
So it's easy for engineer, to accept science and engineering fundamentals in school and be a good expert afterward; but to be a successful construction industrialist one has to secure more humanities attainment when he want to be the company leader and industry visionary later in the career with "construction" is an art rather than a science in his mind.
8). An engineer sometimes may feel frustrated when he encountered resistance trying to promote top notch infrastructure projects but fails to convince the general public. However, he should realize the implementation of public works should always be kind of choices rather than direct conviction that pure scientific matter will rule.
The civil engineers should realize the efforts he rendered explaining the new idea or criticize the existing unreasonable things will not be in vain, because each time he gives reasoning, persuasion and novel idea, he can shake, crumble, and change public perception incrementally and it finally will be crystalized in his favor, the process further demonstrate the construction industry is not a yes or no scientific verdict.
On the other hand, the civil engineer should also know all the information give to public will only be considered as brute data instead of precise evidence, which can be refine or redefined as environment and situation will change from time to time.