Leaders UAE 2018 Preview: Greater gender equality called for
While more women are "entering the industry, there is still a long way to go" before construction becomes gender-equal
Dr Richard T Schoephoerster, dean of American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) College of Engineering, maps the future of construction engineers in the UAE and the Middle East. To learn more about the Construction Week: Leaders in Construction UAE Summit 2018 and how you can attend the exclusive conference in Dubai, click here.
What are the main challenges facing the construction industry in 2018?
The public increasingly expects the construction industry to meet global standards in sustainability. As an industry with a relatively large environmental footprint, the construction industry needs to be innovative and creative in generating solutions that minimise waste and reliance on fossil energy sources.
The industry also faces challenges in becoming more gender-equal. While there is an increasing number of women entering the industry, there is still a long way to go before women are represented in the industry in equal numbers, particularly in senior roles. We also understand there is a strong desire and need to increase automation and decrease the reliance on manual labour.
What excites you most about the UAE construction industry in 2018?
There are many new, major construction projects planned for the region in 2018. I am looking forward to seeing how the industry uses the latest technology and techniques to overcome the hurdles it faces in creating buildings that can withstand changing environmental conditions and the expectations of the public. I am excited about seeing how research being conducted at AUS that has relevance to the construction industry is utilised by the private sector, and how new innovations will make the construction industry more efficient.
What topics do you expect will be discussed at the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018?
We are hosting a roundtable discussion at the summit, where we hope to have a rich discussion with industry leaders about innovation. We want to talk about innovation advances that are happening now, and the positive impact they are having. We also want to discuss innovation gaps in the industry, and how we, as a university can help to fill some of these holes.
Why is it important for AUS, and for you, to support and attend the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018?
AUS’s College of Engineering is one of the region’s leading engineering schools. To maintain the quality of the degrees we offer, it is important that we have open and meaningful dialogue with key people and organisations in the engineering world and that, of course, includes the construction industry. This event is an excellent way for us to strengthen relationships, and hear from the industry about its needs and expectations. This allows us to offer engineering programs that are relevant and in-sync with industry challenges.
What are the latest developments that your company has unveiled this year, and what’s lined up for the future?
We are continually updating and adapting our offerings so that they meet the expectations of both students and industry. The university’s first doctoral programme – the PhD in Engineering Systems Management – was recently launched, with students starting this fall. This programme includes a track in sustainable construction. We are also in the early planning and design stages for a master’s degree programme in construction management.