WMU to be leader in innovative construction research

Dr. Osama Abudayyeh

Dr. William Rantz

WMU will be at the forefront of innovative construction research with the establishment of the new Georgeau Construction Research Institute, housed in the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The newly created Institute was made possible by a generous $5 million gift from Phil and Betty Georgeau. Phil Georgeau is a graduate of WMU and founder of Chem Link, a company based in Schoolcraft, Mich., that manufactures products for the construction industry.

The vision of the institute is to advance the construction industry through innovative research focused on addressing global construction challenges and creating better, stronger, sustainable, safer and more resilient construction systems and materials.

Dr. Osama Abudayyeh, chair of WMU’s civil and construction engineering department, will serve as the director of the institute. “We greatly appreciate this substantial gift from the Georgeau family and are excited about the opportunities to address the challenges of the construction industry and enhance its global competitiveness,” Abudayyeh said.  He noted that advanced construction techniques, smart materials, energy efficiency, renewable energy, green and sustainability issues, and evolving regulatory requirements have created the need for higher levels of training for construction professionals.

“Today’s construction companies must respond to these challenges and to the demands of private and public owners who continually expect more for their money,” he said. “We will focus on innovative research, address best practices that can be implemented by industry, and help educate the next generation of construction researchers by engaging students at all levels in construction research.”

He said there are plans to offer mini-courses, seminars and workshops through the institute.

Abudayyeh and associate director Dr. William Rantz, currently interim chair of the Department of Chemistry, will work closely with the institute’s advisory board and technical committee to define research projects and solicit proposals for projects. Initial funding for projects will be in the areas of construction methods and safety, innovative construction materials, and smart buildings.