Marcos Sierra has applied for our Future Contractors Scholarship and his essay was selected to be one of our finalists. Below is some information about Macos and his essay submission. You can vote for his submission by clicking here.

Senior at Arizona State University
Major – Civil Engineering

What do you enjoy about your studies?

I enjoy how tangible and applicable my studies can be. I have had days before where I have had a lecture on girder structure and then the very next day I am on the job site where girders are being placed for an overpass. Then, moving into design with my Civil Engineering internship, I am using the same exact equations that I had learned the week prior which is something I greatly appreciate. 

What hobbies/organizations/jobs are you included in?

Currently, I am apart of the ASCE ASU chapter and I work part time for Wood Patel which is a civil engineering design firm. I am also going to start taking classes for my Computer Science degree next summer. 

Marcos' Essay. What do you think the future of construction will be like and how will your education be applicable to this?

Automation with artificial intelligence is the future of construction. When I was running heavy equipment before I started my undergraduate degree, one thing that I realized was how repetitive the procedures were. From scrapers running down haul roads, to excavating and laying pipe, many activities can be programmed into algorithms that not only improve efficiency but promote safety.

This type of technology has already been recognized by some companies and has been implemented into their own day to day activities. Currently at four different Rio Tinto mines in Australia, there are approximately 73 automated haul trucks that are utilized and operated by personal 750 miles away. The single operator is not necessarily operating the equipment in the traditional sense, but instead monitoring the heavy equipment in case of an emergency.

Doing this allows for having less operators but more trucks which increases the profit margin and reduces error. With efficiency being a variable that most construction professional strive towards, programming heavy equipment can help reduce the most common mishaps of human error. In 2017, there were approximately 5,100 deaths in the construction industry with 10% of these related to heavy equipment (OSHA, 2017).

Furthermore, introducing artificial intelligence into construction would be an even larger step in safety that I see construction inhabiting. There were days that I can remember, where I was either almost ran over or hit by a piece of equipment and some days where I almost injured one of my own co-workers while on heavy equipment. They are so large and have more blind spots than the average car, that the chances of having an accident, serious injury or even death, is not out of the question each time someone goes to work.

This is part of the reason that I left the industry and start my degree in Civil Engineering so that I could get out of the industry and a part of the reason that I want my second degree in Computer Science. Converting heavy equipment to automation or even AI would be a feat, but there are already so many industries that have implemented AI into their practices that I am sure I can do the same for construction.

After having many years in the field, to then having more experience in Civil Engineering design, to finally a degree in Computer Science, I believe that I can make heavy equipment more safe and efficient to not only save tax payer dollars, but more importantly, give working professionals the piece of mind when they head of to work.