Keynote Speakers | Transforming Construction with Off-site Methods and Technologies | UNB

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Off-site Construction Research Centre

Conference speakers

Welcome remarks

Dr. Paul Mazerolle

Dr. Paul Mazerolle (BA’89) is the 19th president and vice-chancellor of the University of New Brunswick.

Prior to his appointment to UNB in July 2019, Dr. Mazerolle was pro vice-chancellor (arts, education and law, 2009-19), provost for Mount Gravatt campus (2009-19) and the director of the violence research and prevention program (2006-19) at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. He was also director of Research and Prevention at the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (2002-2005) and head of the criminology program at the University of Queensland (2000-2006).

An active scholar in criminology, Dr. Mazerolle has led several funded research projects examining processes that shape offending behaviour across the life-course. His primary focus is in building knowledge on violence to inform theories, advance understanding and improve policy and practices to reduce or prevent violence.

Dr. Mazerolle is a past editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology and is the founding co-editor (with Tara McGee) of the Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology. He has published widely on topics including understanding and preventing different forms of homicide, including Intimate partner homicide and femicide, police attitudes and responses to domestic violence and youth violence.

Dr. Mazerolle obtained his bachelor of arts in sociology from UNB in 1989. He went on to complete his master’s degree in criminal justice at Northeastern University in 1990 and his PhD in criminology at the University of Maryland in 1995.

A proud native of New Brunswick, having grown up in Fredericton, he returned to New Brunswick and UNB with the goal helping his alma mater create positive change in the province and world.



Keynote speaker

Reza Nasseri is the CEO of Landmark Group of Companies. He founded Landmark in 1977 with an entrepreneurial commitment to build better homes for families at the best price possible and has been building houses from Landmark’s Edmonton headquarters for over 40 years.

Since then he has grown the organization to be one of Alberta’s largest homebuilding companies often being at the forefront of the industry’s most significant innovations. Along the way Reza has become a leading proponent of reducing the environmental impact of the home building industry and encouraging the creation of energy-efficient homes.

The homebuilding industry has never been forced to improve and Reza has always been driven to change that. He chose the path of industrializing residential construction to make sustainable homebuilding possible and profitable. In doing so, he revolutionized and redesigned the way homes are built by replacing site construction (stick-building) with ACQBUILT Inc, an indoor, state-of-the-art manufacturing process.

His contributions have been recognized with numerous honours, including being appointed to the Order of Canada, the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours system. As well, he has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Real Estate and Construction category with a special citation for product innovation, been named one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people, been inducted to Alberta Order of Excellence, received the Exceptional Service Award from the Edmonton Home Builders Association, received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and is an Alberta Business Hall of Fame Inductee.



Panelists

Dr. Mohamed Al-Hussein

Dr. Mohamed Al-Hussein is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. He held the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in the Industrialization of Building Construction and was the inaugural director of the Nasseri School of Building Science and Engineering.

He is a highly sought researcher in the areas of modular and offsite construction, lean manufacturing, construction process optimization, and BIM. Dr. Al-Hussein’s research has been published in nearly 400 articles in leading journals and conference proceedings.


Professor Mohammed Arif

Professor Mohammed Arif is a distinguished academic currently serving as Pro Vice-Chancellor of Enterprise and External Engagement at Leeds Trinity University. With a career spanning over two decades in higher education, Professor Arif has amassed a wealth of experience and expertise that positions him as an invaluable asset to the university's executive team.

Prof Arif’s illustrious career includes significant leadership roles such as Professor of Sustainability and Process Management at the University of Salford, Head of School - Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Wolverhampton and Dean of the School of Architecture, Technology, and Engineering at the University of Brighton. In addition, he has held academic positions in the USA and the UAE. During his career, he has generated more than £20 million in research funding, supervised 30 doctoral students, and published more than 150 refereed articles.

Armed with a robust educational background, Professor Arif holds a BSc in Engineering (Mechanical) from Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, India, and earned his MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida, USA. His areas of research interest, notably Offsite Construction and Sustainability, underscore his commitment to addressing contemporary challenges through pioneering scholarship.

As a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Professor Arif embodies the highest standards of academic rigor and professionalism. His global engagement spans across academic and professional communities worldwide, reflecting his dedication to fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange on a global scale.


Qian Chen

Qian Chen is an assistant professor in Civil Engineering at the School of Engineering at The University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus). She uses digital and immersive technologies, optimization algorithms and fabrication-aware design methods to enable integration of stakeholders while accelerating the digital transformation of construction projects.

Dr. Chen completed her Doctor of Science degree in Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Her previous research was focused on a systematic approach to enabling digital supply chain coordination in construction projects when utilizing lean production methods, BIM techniques and optimization algorithms.

Her research outputs have brought to the industry additional insights about the BIM-based digital information and material flows among designers, material suppliers, and contractors and encouraged them to standardize communication interfaces and speed up design-to-construction decision-making processes.

Her academic journey has spanned many countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, China, Switzerland, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Prior to joining UBC, Dr. Chen worked at the University of Cambridge supporting the UK Construction Productivity Taskforce in undertaking a construction performance measurement and benchmarking project.

Since UBC, Dr. Chen established the Construction Integration and Digitalization lab and her research group has collaborated with prefabrication industry stakeholders and municipalities to develop digital circular economy strategies, configurator designs and digital fabrication processes to improve the performance of industrialized construction.


Sabrina Fiorellino

Sabrina Fiorellino is the CEO and Co-Founder of Fero International Inc. A serial entrepreneur, Sabrina launched Fero in 2020 after completing the sale of a large private road-building company she founded in 2017 and following 10 years as counsel at two large firms on Toronto’s Bay Street.

In her current business, Sabrina has directed her attention to finding ground-breaking solutions for healthcare, housing, and other markets through modularization to address today’s critical space shortages by building off-site faster and more efficiently.

At Fero, Sabrina has brought together a highly experienced team of modular construction professionals, leading the company from a startup, through organic growth and acquisition, to operating the largest modular manufacturing plant in Canada.


CEO, OffsiteNZ

Scott Fisher

Scott is CEO of OffsiteNZ, New Zealand’s peak body representing the offsite construction sector. Scott is passionate about how the offsite sector, by applying manufacturing disciplines, new technologies and processes and LEAN disciplines, can achieve a better built environment - better quality, smarter, greener, safer, faster, more innovative and more efficient building solutions.

Scott has extensive commercial and leadership experience in the public, private and NGO sectors and with several membership bodies.

Scott is a current member of the Ministry of Building, Innovation & Employment’s Building Advisory Panel, the Construction Sector Accord’s Residential Building Reference Group, Massey University’s Built Environment Advisory Panel, the Construction & Infrastructure Workforce Development Council’s Offsite Industry Group, the Manufacturing, Engineering & Logistics Workforce Development Council’s Stakeholder Advisory Group and Past Chair of MBIE’s Modular Component Manufacturer Scheme’s Technical Working Group.

Scott is a frequent speaker at construction sector conferences advocating and promoting the merits of building better.


Dr. Gursans Guven Isin

Dr. Gursans Guven Isin is an Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Manitoba. Prior to that, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto. She received her BS in Civil Engineering from Yildiz Technical University (Istanbul, Turkey), and her MS in Construction Management and PhD in Civil Engineering from Istanbul Technical University (Istanbul, Turkey).

Dr. Guven Isin’s research interests are in the areas of automation, sensing and IT applications for construction engineering and management, and Building Information Modeling (BIM). Her current research focuses on the utilization and integration of automation and data capture technologies with BIM for improving processes and operations in construction projects as well as the applications of immersive visualization technologies for supporting the design, construction and operational stages of the built environment.

She currently directs the Construction Engineering and Management Group at the University of Manitoba and serves as the Manitoba Section Chair of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE).


PhD., MSc., P.Eng., Associate Professor

Mojgan Jadidi

Dr. Mojgan Jadidi is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Lassonde School of Engineering, York University. Her research interest includes Digital Twins (BIM, GIS, sensor data Integration), Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Spatial Quantum Computing for the applications of Smart Environment/Building/Infrastructures/Cities.

As founder of Geospatial Visual Analytics (GeoVA) Lab, she passionately drives the research in cutting edge technology development and engineering education using virtual/augmented reality (AR/VR) and gamification technologies intersecting with UN Sustainable Development Goals to prepare the future change makers.

She received her PhD in Geomatics from Université Laval in 2014 working on development of Fuzzy Spatial Datacube for Risk Assessment. She has MSc in Earthquake and Seismology Engineering from ROSE Center (Reduction of Seismic Risk), Italy and Université Grenoble Alpes, France and BSc in Civil-Survey Engineering from Iranian University of Science and Technology.

Her research has been funded by multiple grants from NSERC, Microsoft Research Accelerator Fund, Mitacs, COMREN, York University Academic Innovation Fund (AIF). She is secretary of ISPRS Commission IV/WG9 Spatially enabled urban and regional Digital Twins.

She is currently associate Director of ESRI Center of Excellence at York University. She is also IEEE member Women in Engineering and Geoscience group, chair of PEO Etobicoke chapter, academic chair of Toronto BIM Community (tBIMc) and certificate committee member of buildingSMART Canada (bSC).

Dr. Jadidi won a number of international awards and scholarships during her tenure at Lassonde and for post doctorate, graduate studies, such as American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Campus Representative Award, Best Paper Award from American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Zone II in 2023, Best Research Paper and Research Poster from ASEE Saint Lawrence Section in 2022, Best Paper Award from 3D GeoInfo Conference in 2018, the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2016, ESRI Students Award in 201 and Erasmus Mundus Master Scholarship from the European Commission in 2006.


Professor Mohamad Kassem

Mohamad Kassem is Professor of Digital Construction Management and the Lead of the Digital Construction Research theme in the School of Engineering at Newcastle University. He is also the International Committee Chair at the International Centre of Connected Construction (IC3).

Professor Kassem has an established leadership and reputation in Digital Construction with a proven track record across research, enterprise, and teaching. Previous roles include the Lead for the Digital Built Environment research group, the Head of Subject for the Project and Construction Project Management Group, and the Director of Enterprise at Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering at Northumbria University. He was also the Chair of the Human Data Interaction (HDI) technical committee of the European Council for Computing in Construction (EC3) between 2019 and 2021.

Prof. Kassem has spent short visiting academic time at prestigious universities including ETH Zurich and the University of Cambridge. He has published more than 120 outputs in international journals and conferences. His successful funding awards include multi-million-pound research and enterprise grants, co-funded by Horizon Europe, Innovate UK and other international research and innovation councils.

Professor Kassem had a number of consultancy appointments to several public sector bodies including the European Commission, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and various governments, advising about strategic digital transformation of their construction markets. The impact from his research and enterprise activities in this area was used in a REF 2021 Impact Case Study, entitled 'Transforming the global construction sector through digitalisation' evidencing impact in 11 countries around the world.

Prof. Kassem received the Scherer Award for outstanding service to the computing community in the context of EC3 in 2021.

He is an expert Grant Evaluator for international and national funding programmes including EU Horizon Framework Programme; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada); the Centre for Digital Built Britain (Cambridge), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK), Natural Environment Research Council (UK), Newton Fund (UK), Norway Research Council, ETH Zurich (Switzerland), and the American University of Beirut (Lebanon).

He has delivered from than 28 invited keynotes around the world in both industry and academic conferences. He has examined PhD students at more than 10 universities in the UK and abroad.

Prof. Kassem is a founding member of the BIM Excellence Initiative, and one of the leading contributors to their Macro BIM adoption project, an international project aiming to be the worldwide leading research effort for country-scale BIM adoption analysis and policy development.

He has a proven track record of working with the industry having collaborated with more than 30 companies in the UK and internationally. Prof. Kassem is keen to develop collaboration with others in academia and the industry under the following themes: digitalisation of construction and engineering projects; data-centric construction, Digital Twin for construction and operation of built/urban environment; decarbonisation through digitalisation; blockchain applications in construction, BIM-enabled digital transformation policies; performance management studies; and project and construction management. He welcomes applications from prospective PhD students on these themes.


Stephen Wightman

Before joining Faithful+Gould in 2021, Stephen was a Senior Director in the Offsite construction industry for more than 22 years. During this time he managed a variety of businesses in the Offsite manufacturing and contracting markets, in both large corporate entities and smaller dynamic growing enterprises.

With detailed specialist knowledge in volumetric and panelised systems, in both steel and timber frame, Stephen has been personally involved in the delivery more than a thousand MMC schemes in the UK and overseas. These cover all market sectors but with particular experience in Education, Healthcare, Retail and both single unit and multi occupancy residential projects.

Stephen now leads AtkinsRéalis PPS consultancy offers in Modern Methods of Construction, providing client advisory on all aspects of MMC and Offsite. This covers both strategic and project level engagements, from concept through all aspects of project delivery and post occupancy, working with Local Authorities, Private Developers, Housing Associations and Government bodies.



Facilitators

Jeff Rankin

Dr. Rankin is a professor and holds the M. Patrick Gillin Chair in Construction Engineering and Management in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick. Prior to joining UNB, Dr. Rankin was the Executive Director of the Construction Technology Centre Atlantic, an innovation broker for the region’s construction industry.

Dr. Rankin’s construction experience has included various project and construction management roles in many types of construction projects including high-rise buildings and larger infrastructure projects such as the Confederation Bridge. He received his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Rankin’s current research focuses on improving the performance of the construction industry through innovation: the appropriate adoption and implementation of advanced technologies and sustainable practices for the delivery of public infrastructure.


Brandon Searle

Brandon is the Director of Innovation and Operations at the University of New Brunswick Off-site Construction Research Centre. In his role, Brandon is responsible for engaging private and public sector organizations to build partnerships, attract investment to UNB, manage and operate the research centre, and support research projects through grant identification and managing key strategic projects and relationships.

Before joining UNB in 2019, Brandon worked in the public sector on capital projects, followed by a five-year position with WSP, where he was an infrastructure management consultant. In addition to his current role with UNB, Brandon sits as a Board Member and Secretary for Building Transformations (formerly CanBIM), an active member of the Off-site Construction working group at the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB), and a member of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) Construction Division.

Brandon has been instrumental in growing the OCRC and creating an executive board of construction leaders from across the country. He is eager to collaborate and work with industry partners to grow the Off-site Construction Research Centre and to create innovative ideas that will transform the construction industry.


Dr. Ala Suliman

Dr. Ala Suliman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at Northumbria University, and adjunct professor at the University of New Brunswick.

Prior to joining Northumbria University, he worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and as an industry postdoctoral fellow at the UNB Off-site Construction Research Centre (OCRC). In 2020, he became a licensed professional engineer (P.Eng.) in Canada.

Dr. Suliman has a diverse engineering background. He earned his Ph.D. in Geomatics Engineering and his M.Sc.E in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Before that, he obtained his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering and his M.Sc. in Construction Surveying and Photogrammetry from the University of Benghazi (UoB) in Libya. Throughout his academic journey at UNB, Dr. Suliman received several awards, including the Award of the Canadian Construction Research Board for two consecutive years (2018 & 2019), the best research prize in different local conferences at UNB for two consecutive years (2015 & 2016), and the funding award of the MITACS industrial research (2020). In 2008, he was awarded the National Development Foundation Scholarship of Libya in recognition of his outstanding academic performance.

Dr. Suliman's professional experience spans academia and consulting. In academia, he has a proven track record of teaching and research at different universities. He has taught a wide range of Civil, Construction, Surveying, and Geomatics engineering courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He is also the leading author of over 20 refereed research papers and a book chapter published in prestigious journals and book series. In the consulting field, Dr. Suliman has delivered numerous training programs to local consultancy firms and provided engineering consultancy and surveying services to leading construction companies in his home country for several years.

Passionate about applying his diverse backgrounds to real-world problems, Dr. Suliman thrives in collaborative and partnership environments. He is dedicated to enhancing workflows in the industry domain and aiding the academic community in modelling complex qualitative concepts. During his time at OCRC, he played a significant role in multiple research projects with public and industry partners, focusing on productivity simulation and lean-based improvement of steel fabrication, mapping technological innovation in off-site construction, maturity modelling and assessment of urban systems in terms of sustainability and smartness, and applications’ mapping of IoT sensors in smart building management.

Furthermore, Dr. Suliman had the honour of initiating and chairing the Transforming Construction with Reality Capture Technologies (TCRC 2022) event at UNB in 2022. This international construction specialty conference highlighted the innovative applications of remote data capturing technologies (such as Laser and LiDAR scanners, Camera sensors, GPR, Drones and Surveying equipment, IoT devices, etc.) in the field of construction project management.

Dr. Suliman remains active in two disciplines: remote sensing and construction management. He serves as a guest editor and an active reviewer for several academic journals and is a member of various research societies in both Canada and the US.

Dr. Suliman's research interests encompass two distinct areas: industry-oriented research focusing on improved work and workflows of construction planning and control through innovative applications of digital and imaging technologies (BIM, AR/MR, AI, Reality capturing and sensing), and academic-oriented research aiming for better decisions and strategic planning through measuring, benchmarking, abstract mapping, and maturity modelling of construction-related concepts.