Advanced Civil Engineering Construction
1. Pre-words: Young men drift off to see the world after graduation always have feeling of curiosity, strangeness, and sometimes nervousness. Engineering graduates are feeling better because they’re considered to be more promising in term of income and status compared with other social groups. Teachers in the classroom and classmates of congeniality continue to say so, though they may not be sensitive enough to the economic changes since turn of century. And it is true that the wealth generated by investment, ventures and rent collecting has been more prominent and professionals are not sitting on the upper rungs of social ladder as comfortable as before. This course try to impart knowledge based on the facts taking place everywhere, and also render brief introduction to construction industry, with the hopes the students who may devote their entire life for civil engineering will not fall into category of “lumpen professional” and know how to adapt in an ever changing economic system.
2. The income distribution changes in the total economy last few hundred years; and its implication to the earning and social status of professionals.
1) The ratio between the income through personal capability and efforts, and that from investment and bequests (between generations) does change since the industrial revolution; and how it influences the allocation of talent between generations.
2) Continuous technology improvement makes economy flourish and life better, still some people in each social class need to struggle for livelihood and survival as distribution inequality persist.
3) What will a young civil engineer choose to be? Occupational, professionals or super managers considering their restrained income compared to capitalist and renter (or rent seekers)? Is it correct to borrow “meritocratic extremism” to justify the tremendous pay difference among the individuals?
4) Will it be practical for engineers to follow code of engineering ethic in terms of faith, integrity, law abiding, and conduct of secrecy at the era when digital economy and artificial intelligence is about to dominate.
5) Can “Engineering as a Vocation” be honored in Taiwan when material reward is meager compared with devotion paid? Can the passion, inspiration and rationality as a professional be kept as the vocation is life time choice?
6) Lines from “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty, “Le Pere Goriot” by H Balzac, to tell how the excellent brains were paid by ruling class historically.
3. How will young man start his professional career?
1) Try to understand the ways that political institutions, social establishment, and commercial interest groups exert influences on each other and make their compromise to function the government and sustain the economy growth. Never mind the possibility that bad side of humanity always have chances to get through in an open society and free market; only trust that a simple-hearted beginner will be able to save the world one day.
2) Young professionals need to equip themselves “knowledge” through education and training; “skill” to apply correctly the concept, principle and information learnt; finally, to exercise good “judgement” based on experience, analysis and meaningful attempts to deliver any project assignment it may be.
3) Right altitude shall be most important for freshmen; they’ve to be steadfast when offered elementary skill and details and must determine what they will be in the near future at earlier stage according to awareness and capability: consultant or contractor, technical or managerial, domestic or international, employed or boss.
4) The young student must understand that the modern construction industry essentially is governed with human distrust: terms of contracts, laws, certificates, checks, guarantees, tests, investigations and reports, are used to stimulate the antagonism between, and also to protect, parties with confronting interests. Young professionals with less confrontational mentality may strive to turn the tendency that non engineer’s gradual domination on the industry to prove the technical world is still belong to the engineers.
5) The young engineers shall trust the systems and accept the lead of the higher-up with patience from the moment he join the organization employ him. He needs to cultivate personal character, discipline and professional strength, and to lead an engineering team when time ripen.
6) Unlike manufacturing or IT industries, construction business has its origin and background attached to history, culture and custom of the vernacular country. So the contracts and the trading systems used for engineering related contracts also need to have tight link with human affairs and common sense of the vernacular country.
4. Of the macro-Economy and Construction Industry
1) A fast developing economy needs infrastructure to keep momentum. Consider the case in IT-savvy India, the dilapidated roads, ports, and power systems often slash several point GDP off every year.
2) 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. Also when social and economic developments come up, the construction industry benefited from growth of other businesses.
3) Civil engineers always hold important government positions in young democracies for years and decades because they draw up long term development plans and their expertise is hardly to be replaced even under regimes of different ideologies.
4) Construction people sometimes risked to become accomplices of people in power stealing public money. Because infrastructure contracts usually involve tremendous sums and require many 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 government officers of developing countries eager to laundry money in the name of infrastructure construction.
5) Contractors always excuse the need to survive as the reason to be part of the scheme, plus the cruel truth that the construction contracts are lucrative, and most of the times impunity works under the coverage of the powerful. Systematic fraud will have devastated the entire economy and the civil engineers blamed as conspirators of the scam. Professionalism should be the only antidote to fight the greedy and impunity behind the organized corruption.
6) An engineer should realize what and how to do of public works should always be the choices of the people and shouldn’t feel frustrated when he encountered resistance to his proposal which he considered most logic and sensible. He must appreciate that each time he gives reasoning, persuasion and idea, he can shake, and change public perception incrementally and it finally will close to the best solution. It's an achievement.
5. The Modern Construction Industry and its Major Players
1) Frontage Players: general contractors, engineers and consultants, architects, specialty contractors, labor gangs, investors.
2) Supporting Entities: banks, insurance company, bondsman Investment Company or fund, operator.
3) Third Party Participants: notaries, law firms, inspectors, laboratories, certifiers, appraisers, unions, arbitrators
4) Stakeholders: public, authority, facility user, neighborhood and locals.
6. Features of Construction Industry explained in 5M:
(1) Power to drive Individuals and Organizations to achieve Business Goal
(2) Managerial cadre, Professional, Occupational.
(3) Disciplines, expertise, project based management, functional department oriented management
(4) Personal and organizational behaviors, coordination and communication under high or low context culture.
(5) Labor laws, quality, incentives, unions, big bosses.
(1) Prototype, bespoke; portable, fixed.
(2) Operation, maintenance and repair.
(3) Rental and owning.
(4) Construction method and machine selected.
(1) Local, traditional construction material as first choice.
(2) Material and Equipment to be incorporated into Project.
(1) Payment: cash, in kinds or goods (barter), deferred (BT), franchise revenue (BOT, PMI).
(2) Standard international contracts to regulate: FIDIC, NEC3 (New Engineering Contract3), AIA(American Institute of Architects), JCT forms of Contract(Joint Contract Tribunal)...etc..
(國際範本契約： FIDIC, NEC3【New Engineering Contract3】, AIA【American Institute of Architects】, JCT forms of Contract(【oint Contract Tribunal】...etc.。)
(3) Money beget Money.
(1) Contractors with Lemming Mentality
(2) Style of Competition: Lowest Bid, Evaluated Lowest bid, Value for Money.
(3) Elements of Competition.
(4) Defying the International Norms.