Construction is an industry that's been around for thousands of years. This industry persists due to the evolution of technology being integrated into the process.
- Construction science. The world's oldest profession. Now, you know the old joke about the world's oldest profession but I argue they had to have a building to do it in. We really are one of the most incredible industries in the planet earth. From the dawn of time, humanity has sought cover, protection, really, we're in the human comfort industry in construction science. We make people more comfortable, we make their lives better, we make it easy for them to move, we make it easy for them to live.
Construction science, as I define it, is the materials, tools, and methods to build vertical, horizontal, and underground structures and it's an old, old industry. Let's just go through a few projects that I think are notable in the history of construction science and the impact that it had on today and the technology they used at the time. The Pyramids at Giza, delivered to their owner in the year 2560 BC. Now, there were two crews of about 100 thousand very non, non-union workers that built this.
They delivered it way, way under budget. Owner was dying to get in. Anyway, the pyramids. These were incredible structures, delivered in 30 years to tighter tolerances than buildings we build today but what's the most impressive thing to me is that they're still here. Can you imagine the buildings that you're in today, the buildings that you're building today, still being here four thousand 500 years from now? Oh, I think not.
You really can't even imagine the buildings you're in being here 100 years from now or even 50 years from now. We're moving to almost disposable buildings as a society. So they're incredible structures but they were built entirely without technology. Now, by the very nature of this audience, you're watching this video online. You're probably a little more tech savvy, you enjoy being on your computer, you like technology, that means you may watch some sci-fi every once in awhile and you may have actually watched Stargate one too many times and think that the pyramids were built by aliens and were ancient alien landing pads.
I hate to disappoint you but that really wasn't their primary use or intent or method. These were built without computers, without aliens, by some brilliant Egyptian engineers who really understand and understood materials, methods, and tools, and processes of building great structures and they had a lot of labor to do it with. Let's fast forward. Ancient Rome. The Ancient Romans actually had central heating. Now, it's believed that they took it from the Etruscans.
The Romans conquered societies and one of the more interesting things they did when they conquered a society is they would adopt and use its technology. The Etruscans had created this system to heat a house by putting a fire in the basement and then piping the hot air through the walls and floors to heat the tile. Now, we act as if heated tile bathrooms are a big thing now and they're a luxury amenity, but the reality is two thousand years ago, the Romans had it. Again, they did all of this, they did aqueducts, roads, structures that still stand today all without computers or modern technology.
Now, they actually used technology but it was a different type of technology, not computing technology. The Great Wall of China. The longest construction project in human history, at 1700 years, it just narrowly edges out of the A project. I mean, this was a long project. The Great Wall was so impressive because they didn't use a single GPS device to build this. Over four thousand miles of main wall, this was an incredible structure.
Fast forward to modern times. The Empire State Building, built in the depths of The Great Depression, 1930. Delivered the architecture plans in two weeks. They say, how will they do that? Well, they actually copied the plans from another building and scaled it up. To this day, the building staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father's Day card to the building staff of the building it was modeled after every year appropriately. The Hoover Dam.
Delivered two years ahead of schedule by a joint venture of three general contractors. A really impressive structure, you can still see today by flying to Las Vegas from Texas, you'll look right over it. Still generates electricity, still does its job, delivered ahead of schedule without a single computer. Now, there are some commonalities to these projects. They were impressive, most of them are still around, we can see them today, they were highly functional, they did not use computers, they also were not very safe.
The Pyramids, so unsafe that their job site safety plan was to actually build a grave site next to the job site so they could safely remove the bodies. That's not much of a safety plan. The Great Wall of China, we really don't exactly know how many people died but we know it was a significant number. The Empire State Building, even 1930, five people died building this building. This is a dangerous industry. Can you imagine what would happen today if five people died on your job site? Well, it would get shut down, people would get fired, companies would get fired, there'd be huge number of lawsuits.
The Hoover Dam, 100 people died building the Hoover Dam. So, certainly, although these projects were delivered on time or ahead of schedule, the loss of human life necessitates that we look at something better. Let's go a little bit farther forward. One of the more impressive projects that I got to research that very few people really know about, Big Inch and Little Inch. These were two pipelines that were strung across America from Houston, well, near Houston, to New York, 1942.
Now, why were we putting oil pipelines from Texas to New York in 1942? 'Cause the Germans had a very effective submarine fleet that they were parking in the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean and they sank 54 of our 55 oil vessels that sailed from Texas to New York bringing oil, so we had to get oil to the war effort. So in 350 days, without a GPS device, without a laser scanner, without a robotic total station, a group of hardworking Americans strung two pipelines across the United States.
Really impressive. And the interstate highway system, 1955 to today. Again, a pretty long project 'cause we continue to expand and improve this project, constructed to haul materials from Canada to Mexico, from the west coast to the east coast, and all parts in between. Now all of these are incredibly impressive projects and structures but we have to ask ourself, is there a better way? And I say yes, there's got to be a better way than what we do because we have some problems, we have a low margin industry, we have a dangerous industry, and we have an industry where the buyer, the building owner, is getting much more particular.
So, there's four reasons I'd like to offer you why we should look at adopting technology to the world's oldest industry. Number one, we can actually make more money. This is the chief argument I hear from people when I talk to them about the construction business and technology, we don't have the money to put in technology, we don't have margin. I believe this is a chicken or egg discussion that we don't have margin because we're not investing it in technology and process improvements. We can make more money by adopting new technologies.
Technologies like BEM, technologies like Robotic Total Stations that automate layout, we can triple labor crew outputs, we can do so much more. By a couple of studies I've recently seen, construction workers only work at the job site interface 37% of the time. What are they doing the rest of the time? Looking for materials, looking for tools, walking around, not sure what's going on, waiting on other trade to finish, all of these problems can be solved with technology. Secondly, we have a more complex industry and we can satisfy the needs of a complex owner.
We're building larger and larger structures, more complex structures, bigger bridges, bigger tunnels, we're going to have to build things on other planets, that's right, we're going to be an interplanetary industry. We have much bigger challenges to solve and they require the use of computing power to get it done. Thirdly, safety. A single death is not acceptable, both morally and financially. We must make a safer industry. And fourth, we've got to improve the lives of construction workers.
Believe it or not, people don't enjoy doing menial, boring work. We have to delegate menial task to computers and elevate the human brain to higher functioning tasks so we can put these incredible workers to better use. In upcoming videos, we're going to continue to explore this topic and many more.
Follow James Benham—the CEO of JBKnowledge, Inc.—as he explains how construction science and computer science are merging into one joint field of study. James shares essential terms that you need to know to speak intelligently about topics like the cloud and machine learning. Plus, he dives into topics like the Internet of Things, the evolution of drones, and 3D printing. To wrap up the course, he covers IT budgets, staffing, and investing in research and development.
- Learning about the origins of construction technology
- Reviewing essential construction tech terms
- Understanding the Internet of Things
- Reviewing the evolution of drones
- Learning about the 3D printing process
- Investing in IT
- Investing in research and development