2020年1月28日 星期二


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. 

(營建業淪為貪腐淵壑,在台灣,比起許多亞非拉國家尚不算太嚴重 )

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.


B. How a freshman to start himself for a successful engineering career:


1) A young student has to think big in an industry huge enough for any person to develop and contribute expertise. Any tight and even sealed protection for construction market, remote, isolated or unfriendly, in the long run will be futile and result the authority to pay exorbitance.  Engineers study and compete hard will be rewarded with success as globalization has favored free flow of knowledge and experience.

(  想大事,放眼國際;無一政府能自外於全球化,保護產業) 

2) Among all, attitude will decide everything. People are driven by passions to learn and to accomplish; passions' kindled with appropriate conceptualization when young man start to contact with various social behavior.  As long as engineer can distinguish good and bad, right and wrong, anxiety and insouciance at early stage of career, he will be able to take proper attitude to solve every problem lately and retain a prominent position in the industry. 

(個人成敗決定於其態度,熱情驅動態度,對事物概念的認識決定其熱情 。工程師開始對善惡、對錯、焦慮或冷漠可有鑑別以後,他可以對產業有正確態度來解決問題)

3) Try to understand the ways that political institutions, social establishment, industrial and commercial interest groups exert influence on each other  and solve their difference to make government functioning and economy progressing in a real world. Never deny there still exists the possibility that corruption and rent seeking in open society and free market system, however, don't count on that a simplehearted beginner will be able to save whole construction industry by defying entire establishment.  


4) Identify own role in an uncertain future and prepare skill and proficiency according to individual's aptitude for adaptation. However, young man living in a real world should not be too sentimental and needs to be bound by degrees of the objectivism; so in most of the cases he has to obtain as many as possible licenses, certificates, and academic degrees in line with many countries' system.  


5) There are different reasons that people want to start new ventures: either they have a technological or commercial breakthrough and feel they would have edges in the completed projects; or simply they have a passion to be an entrepreneur, which command advantages in a fragmented market dealing with otherwise slighted customers. In many industries the talent shall start early and relatively untainted by the business, however, the founders of construction enterprises normally have to accumulate work experience and build human connections unless they're endowed by family.


6) The young student as soon as he starts to receive engineering education must understand that the modern construction industry essentially is governed with human distrust: terms of contracts, laws, certificates, checks, guarantees, tests, investigations and reports, as designed by "intrusive" white collars are used to elevate the antagonism between confronting parties. It's a known fact that many professionals tried to redress in vain and hated to accept, so the late comer may defy the tendency that non engineer’s gradual domination on the industry but should be aware engineering and workmanship were only part of construction  projects.

( 現代營建產業因人不相信任,致許多「闖入」白領工作者有機會昇高各方的對立:契約條款、法律、證明、查核、保證、檢驗、調查、報告都為此非生產性目的而存。雖許多專業工作者試圖努力,卻無力改變非工程師仍能主導工程的事實,所以科班工程師應了解技術與生產對產業的重要性,不讓體系再走偏鋒)