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The Value of ELECTRI Research - A Twenty-Year Perspective
As of June 18, 2018

Published on: 
May 23, 2012

ELECTRI International has a two-decade history of commissioning and publishing quality research for the electrical construction industry. We recently sat down with Jerald Rounds, Ph.D., the AGC Endowed Chair Professor and Construction Programs Leader at the University of New Mexico. Professor Rounds serves as ELECTRI's liaison to the academic and research community.

Has there been an impact on electrical construction because of the studies selected and funded by ELECTRI?

The work has definitely been of benefit to the industry over the past two decades. Members of the ELECTRI Council have been able to direct the research agenda so that it focuses on specific problems of interest to their companies.

What about the rest of electrical construction?

The industry as a whole is also a beneficiary because the products of many of the ELECTRI research studies are generally applicable across the broad construction industry.

We hear that the academic community is pleased to have so many opportunities to work with our Foundation.

That's a very accurate statement and it comes from the fact that ELECTRI has funded numerous projects at a multitude of institutions. Every top-quality college and university has an opportunity to compete for these coveted research grants. Every researcher with a solid concept and a strong work plan should be thinking about responding to ELECTRI's annual Request for Proposal so that the Council can take a close look at what new research is possible and would be valuable.

What does getting a research award actually do for the faculty member?

Academics who are focused on construction gain solid grounding in the practice of construction by interacting with leading constructors. They also find resources for their studies in terms of projects to study and practicing professionals to interview to create the data base for the research. I know that individual researchers have been able to develop career changing research agendas -- based upon ELECTRI projects. Equally important, working with ELECTRI is a way for them to introduce their students to specialty construction in general and, specifically, electrical construction.

We know that ELECTRI places a lot of emphasis on having an industry-based Task Force for each research project it funds. Do the researchers object to having this kind of observation and participation as they complete their work?

In my view and experience, both practitioners from the industry and educators benefit from the cross-fertilization of thinking that gets generated when the two groups are brought together. The leaders of the electrical construction industry are smart enough to recognize that many long-term, vexing problems can be mitigated and resolved through academic studies.

In addition to contractors and researchers, who else benefits?

That's the magic of it, if you will. ELECTRI provides a neutral ground upon which various constituencies can meet, talk, and work together to solve problems. Research projects have brought together specialty and general contractors, designers and owners, suppliers and distributors, and professionals from outside the industry, such as human resource specialists, lawyers, accountants, and professionals from all disciplines.

Electrical construction is one of several construction specialties. Has ELECTRI's approach to helping its part of the industry been copied by others.

It's absolutely fair to say that the ELECTRI research model has been studied and adapted to meet the research needs of many other construction industry organizations and associations.