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VT Myers-Lawson School of Construction presents findings from year-long robotic dog project

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 10:35 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Hokie fans are already preparing for Saturday’s big game, but Friday, all the action was at the Myers-Lawson School of Construction.

“Spot the robot dog” showed off his moves to staff and students inside Bishop-Favrao Hall, but dance moves are only a small part of what the “dog” can do.

The project is made possible by Procon Consulting, a company founded by two Tech alumni who are hoping to inspire current students.

“This is what we need. We need them to kind of step up, and be very engaged, and try to innovate, and help us solve some of the more critical issues in the construction industry that we face today,” said Procon Co-Founder and President Kyu Jung.

Capital Construction Associate Director Paul Ely said in the construction industry, it’s important that students have this kind of hands-on experience.

“Construction is a very kinesthetic industry. So getting them out there seeing, feeling and experiencing the job site is critical to their learning.”

The workshop focused on research findings -- like having Spot the robot dog on construction sites and how to make sites safer. The majority of the findings were positive, but having the robot on site can still present dangers.

“We did a lot of testing in a controlled environment and when we went to the actual construction sites, we were able to reduce the risk and implement this on a construction site,” said VT Assistant Professor Keresh Afsari.

For one Tech Senior on the project, Minghao Dong, research was made possible in part through a Memorial Program for Dr. Kevin Granata, who was killed during the mass shooting at the university in 2007. Those in attendance, said Dr. Granata was big on the safety aspect of projects, which was a focus of this research project.

“Just doing this, I’m researching in the safety field, in a way to remind of Granata’s actions. As long as there are still people remembering, his actions will be remembered,” said

For VT Building Construction Professor Walid Thabet this kind of research is vital to the future of the construction industry.

“We’re adopting technology not just because some of us want to test it, but it’s also to benefit the output of the construction, which is the product that the owner is getting at the end of the job.”

Thabet said Friday’s workshop was also a collaboration between many organizations, and he is proud of the outcome.

For more information on the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, you can find its website here.

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