Education Matters: Using Virtual Reality in Construction Management


Construction is on the rise in Fresno county. It’s not just new homes being built, but commercial and the high speed rail are also adding to the growth.

Fresno State’s construction management program is one of the best.  It’s graduates are not only prepared for today’s job market, but the latest in technology is preparing them for the future.

The way most people view the construction field is men and women in hardhats doing a lot of hands on work…going over blueprints and designs. It’s all part of the job.
Mixed reality, similar to virtual reality, is now being used in the construction industry. It allows the construction worker or project manager to bring a design to them-wherever they are.

“Instead of looking at a set of blueprints what they can do is wear these glasses and they can see the design in front of them,” stated assistant professor Dr. Wei Wu. 

Mixed and virtual reality are the types of new technology students are being taught how to use in Fresno State’s Construction Management program.

“We believe today’s construction world or engineering industry is very technology driven and we want our students prepared for their future career.”

Preparing the next generation of construction managers requires that students be taught not only how to use the latest technology but also the right tools.

“We do give them the hands on experience, we want them to understand what it’s like to frame a wall, do a little bit hands on construction but that’s not really the focus, the focus is to develop a full tool set so they can manage a project from conception all the way to completion and that means working with designers, working with the trade people that are actually doing the hands on work and really being that middle person that can manage the entire process,” said Construction Management Department Chair Brad Hyatt.

Hyatt says the program has changed a lot over the last 20 years and is attracting more students. Students like Monet Keeth who says she wasn’t even aware of the program when she first started at Fresno State.  She says many students have misconceptions about the field.

“I think that people still assume that even though we are going to college getting degrees that we are going to be out in the field digging ditches. That’s kind of what you here all the time and they don’t understand that there is this whole management aspect through the construction industry cost tracking, scheduling, estimating things like that,” stated Fresno State student Monet Keeth. 

Hyatt says the graduates from this program work with large general contractors on big projects like hospitals, bridges, and the high speed rail. Student, Tim Hobbs says what they’re learning at Fresno State puts them at a huge advantage.

“Obviously other projects you can come in and build you get to see exactly how certain things are pieced together…so seeing it again in a 3 dimensional world compared to a normal two dimensional world compared to a normal two dimensional plan is completely different,” stated Hobbs. 

Instructors tell us that their program also requires students participate in service learning projects…Fresno State is part of a community with a lot of needs.  Professor Woo’s students participate in the 300 dollar house challenge…designing and building a house for the homeless.

Students coming out of the program are in demand. Hyatt says those who are successful bring that blue collar work ethic that employers look for.

“We have one foot in that white collar where we are managing, working with designers and owners on big complex projects. We have another foot on the job site working with the trades that are actually putting the work in place so it’s really this discipline career field they get to do both.”

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