The shortage of skilled labour is impacting every part of the economy, and the construction industry is no exception. In a survey conducted by the ifo Institute, 34.1% of construction companies reported experiencing a shortage of skilled workers in October 2021. At the same time, demand for construction services remains high. This makes it all the more important to find ways to overcome the skilled labour shortage. Digitalisation and automation are essential to this and hold enormous potential, especially for the construction industry. But who will exploit this potential and pave the way to the construction site of the future? RWTH Aachen is preparing students for precisely this task through its international Master’s programme in Construction Robotics (CR). To ensure these young minds are ideally prepared for the construction site of the future, PORR and other construction companies are helping to shape the CR Master’s programme at RWTH Aachen and give the CR Master’s students practical construction site experience.
The interdisciplinary Master’s programme is aimed at graduates from Bachelor’s programmes in mechanical engineering, informatics, construction engineering and architecture. Every year, RWTH Aachen receives more than a thousand applications for its CR Master’s programme, which is taught in English. Only the 60 best applicants from around the world are admitted every year. The programme not only gives the students the opportunity to learn the specialist skills needed to lead the construction industry into the future, it also encourages them to think innovatively. It is hoped that this approach will lay the foundation for a better future and modern construction. The Master’s programme focuses on highly practical learning and discovery. It is the perfect way for the innovation scouts and pioneers of the new, increasingly digitalised construction industry to round off their academic training.
Curriculum closes the digital gaps between planning, execution and operation
In the course of the programme, students work on a variety of interdisciplinary projects each semester, with topics ranging from IoT devices on construction sites to digital twins and the individualised automation of construction site processes. It covers fields including new building processes, building products, networked machinery, the use of robots, software solutions, working concepts and communication concepts, thereby closing the digital gaps between planning, execution and operation. In addition, it aims to overcome the barriers presented by growing quality, time and safety requirements by drawing on the latest research.
Learning by doing: Reference Construction Site enables hands-on training
In partnership with the Center Construction Robotics, a unique real-world test site has been set up on the RWTH Aachen campus so that students can examine the practicability of innovative solutions and approaches. Students can use the 10,000m² Reference Construction Site to implement their ideas in real-life conditions. The Reference Construction Site, which recently celebrated its second birthday, is operated by the Center Construction Robotics along with prestigious partners such as PORR, Liebherr and Hilti.
PORR supports students
PORR is fully committed to the CR Master’s programme. In addition to having PORRians deliver lectures and talks, PORR also organises numerous construction site visits for students on the programme. But that’s not all: since the summer of 2021, PORR has enabled students to complete an internship tailored to their interests and studies. As a result, students now spend eight weeks on a selected PORR construction site. During their internship, students analyse different processes and provide valuable input on aspects of construction sites that could be suitable for digitalisation. Furthermore, the students can develop exciting ideas for potential study projects by engaging with their colleagues on site.
PORR hopes that its commitment to the CR Master’s programme will be an important step towards overcoming the skilled labour shortage and help to create the construction site of the future.