PhD admission notice at university of Reading , United Kingdom

PhD admission notice at university of Reading , United Kingdom
School of Construction Management and Engineering
PhD Research Topics in the Innovative Construction Research Centre - Posted on 08th April 2005 -

The University of Reading
School of Construction Management and Engineering

PhD Research Topics in the Innovative Construction Research Centre

Why graduates of any discipline? The construction sector provides a rich source of real problems that benefit from the application of research methodologies from a variety of fields, currently including archaeology, economics, engineering, law, psychology, sociology. The Innovative Construction Research Centre has EPSRC funding for a number of Ph.D. scholarships in specific areas of research related to the work of the centre. Details of the research centre are available at
In addition to the topics offered here, we would also welcome proposals that fit within our research remit.

Applications are invited for candidates wishing to start in January, May or October 2005.
Applicants should have a good first degree in a construction-related subject, or any of the social sciences.
The usual EPSRC eligibility criteria apply:
candidates must have a relevant connection with the UK, usually through residence and appropriate academic qualifications.
Residence requirements are set out in Part IV, Regulation 12 of the Education (Fees and Awards) Regulations 1983:
A student must be ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the date of application for an award, and has not been resident in the UK for any part of that period, wholly or mainly for the purposes of full time education, and has settled status in the UK within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971.

Program Details:

Mapping of IT systems application in the construction industry (Dr Abbas Elmualim)

The ever increasing application of knowledge systems in producing new products and services, real or virtual, have dramatically affected business transactions in construction as much as any other sector. Buildings may no longer be judged by aesthetics or presence only, but by the information and communication services offered. Emerging IT technologies are rapidly constraining/enabling building and space design with new requirements to accommodate these new technologies, which further demarcate the social, individual or communal spaces and facilities provided. With the emerging convergence of FM and IT, this project sets out to explore innovative application of IT systems in the construction industry. The aim will be to map out the application of IT systems during the design, construction and operation of projects both currently and in the future, with a view to improving businesses output and client/user value.

Integrated Systems and Processes (Derek Clements-Croome)

Integration is a corner stone in achieving the goals of an effective, efficient and responsive building, or more precisely, an ‘intelligent building’. Building services systems are designed to provide environmental control, mobility, communications, facilities, fire protection and security. It is the balance and integration between building contents, the organisation and the services which jointly determine if the value objectives are achieved. The proposed research project will determine value added indicators to ensure that the integration of services and the other components of the building can be achieved. The research will learn from other industries about how ‘integration’ indicators of success relate to building services and give added value for the building users. Integrated processes are needed to achieve integration of systems and the challenge for this project is to discover how this can be brought about.

Whole life costing of car parking and its alternatives (Eddie Finch)

Car parking represents a major and diminishing resource for organisations. Tied to this is the increasing awareness that unbridled provision of car parking undermines organisations' environmental aspirations. This PhD would be concerned with the development of a whole life cycle costing model that would support an appropriate employee charging system in the context of flexible working.

Skills audits on modern high-performance projects (Norman Fisher)

A number of recent studies have suggested a mismatch between professional skills needed for new innovative ways of designing and managing the construction of projects and the more traditional suggested by professional institutions. The project is seeking to map new and more traditional skills and identify skill and knowledge gaps.

Project Management (Norman Fisher)

The project is looking at the project process in terms of processes, vocabulary, project systems, project control and management. It is seeking to develop further a non prescriptive approach to project organisational design.

Project modelling (Norman Fisher)

The use of object oriented modelling to assist each stage in the project process in the same way a physical prototype would in manufacturing industry. This project seeks to develop techniques and measure the added value achieved by this approach.

Total factor productivity for international comparison of product quality in the built environment (Colin Gray)

Productivity measurement across international boundaries is usually based on manufactured output using comparisons of like for like. Buildings and the built environment present more complex issues because the performance characteristic, technologies, complexity of use and other factors invalidate like for like comparisons. The research study is to devise alternate measures accounting for performance and quality in buildings and the built environment.

Risk assessment of innovation strategies (Colin Gray)

While innovation is regarded as a good thing, the UK is criticised for poor take up of innovation. First this will be questioned as to its truth and secondly the value chain for the implementation of innovation will be explored for the risk exposure of the parties at each step in the chain. The objective will to develop appropriate strategies for the take up of innovation and the associated risk mitigation approaches in complex and fragmented industrial environments.

Reliability analysis in building services engineering systems (Derek Clements-Croome)

Reliability is a vital factor in assessing the performance of systems for building services, manufacturing and nuclear power systems. The traditional approaches to reliability analysis are based on probability and statistical theory. The problem is that there is a stream of data accumulating quickly and this traditional approach proves inadequate. Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques offer solutions which can deal with this scenario. The project aims to establish a reliability analysis approach which can be applied to system (e.g. building services) in buildings.

Self expression in the workplace (Eddie Finch)

The development of plasma screens and related technologies is resulting in the substitution of the traditional 'notice board'. Facilities managers in turn have become responsible for the dissemination and control of such information. This PhD would be concerned with the effect of information technology on the extent of self-expression in the workplace, with the assertion that our modern work environment offers an increasingly controlled and constrained opportunity for such expression.

Making office space creative (Eddie Finch)

Recent management trends have seen an increased use of the office space as part of the creative process. Some of these techniques involve the extensive use of paper postings on walls. Often it involves the exclusive use of meeting space over prolonged periods of several days, without access for cleaning. This PhD will consider the facilities management challenge to meet this growing trend whereby the environment itself becomes part of the decision making process. It will consider the extent to which projection , whiteboard and tactile technologies can support this, as well as the health and safety implications of this new way of working.

FM Integration (Stuart Green)

The recent shift from product delivery to service provision places a new imperative on the integration of facilities management (FM) expertise into the design process. Within the context of PFI/PPP, there is a commercial imperative to balance capital costs with through-life operational costs. Decision-support models are required at the key decision pinch-points that punctuate the process. Such models provide an important means of managing knowledge flows across different stages of the project life-cycle.

Dynamics of construction sector change (Stuart Green)

If improvement recipes aimed at construction are to be successful then the existing dynamics of change must be taken into account. Of particular interest is the complex interaction between structural and cultural forces that shape the sector’s default model of competitiveness. In contrast to the repeated calls for improvements in efficiency, firms need to give greater attention to the development of dynamic capabilities if they are to be able to respond to a changing marketplace. Best practice recipes too often exacerbate existing trends rather than facilitating sectoral improvement.

Guaranteeing the performance of contractors (Will Hughes)

Construction contracting involves the expenditure of huge sums of money, relative to a client’s turnover. Many different techniques have emerged in an attempt to ensure that clients get what they ask for. However, the business of contracting still relies upon a huge number of documents as well as a wide range of professional inputs. Business practices vary widely between sectors and between nations. The purpose of this research is to investigate the efficacy of these different practices with a view to developing guidance for the agreements and contracts that underlie modern collaborative working practices.

Construction contracting in the public sector (Will Hughes)

Government departments in the UK have been at the forefront of developing new approaches to collaborative construction contracting. Each government department seems to have its own approach to the procurement of construction work and many public servants face huge risks in terms of accountability for the decisions that they take. If the selection of contractors and the calculation of payments are to be based upon techniques although than lowest price bidding, a major re-think is needed in terms of how public servants are asked to account for their decisions.

Submitted by
Rahul Singh (

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