Expert Systems For Management Training In The Construction Industry
Saoud, Ehab AB
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The construction industry is based on age old skills where 'man' has been the builder and is coupled to his creative ability and skilled craftsmanship. This significant dependency on human resources continues to this day and thus the success of the construction industry is linked to making effective use of the human resources through training programmes. The research presented in this thesis investigates the use of expert systems in such management training programmes. The work described in this thesis includes a literature survey in chapter 2 on different aspects of human resources management with particular emphasis on management training and learning styles. Chapter 3 presents the results and analysis of the civil engineering and management practices survey, which was carried out during this research. The survey focused mainly on management training and attitude towards computer technology within the construction industry. Expert systems as a branch of artificial intelligence is discussed in chapter 4, where an assessment of the usefulness of using expert systems in different areas of construction management is carried out. Research methodology and techniques of knowledge acquisition applied in this research are presented in chapter 5. The process of the different stages in the development of the contract and safety management expert system is presented in chapter 6, which further describes the structure in which the system was designed. Finally, in order to assess the usefulness of the expert system tool developed, a summative evaluation is carried out. This evaluation examines many factors including attitudes towards computing, human-computer interaction, knowledge base design, use of expert system for training and expert system evaluation tests. Evaluation results and analysis are presented in chapter 7. It is concluded that there is certainty about the importance of management training in the construction industry. Developing expert systems for such training can be used as an aid tool in many training programmes. The choice of the development tool is considered to be an important function in this research in order to achieve the anticipated results by utilising the available resources. Evaluation of different shells was carried out against the criteria mentioned in chapter 4 and CRYSTAL 4.5 was chosen as the tool to be used in this research. During the development of the expert system, CRYSTAL 4.5 proved to be flexible and fast in structuring the knowledge base. The research also revealed the importance of the evaluation as an essential element of any systematic training program. Results obtained from the contract and safety management expert system evaluation (70% in favour of using expert systems for training) suggested that most trainees managed to grasp the subject information. Only a minority of trainees experienced difficulties during the training program. Those trainees will benefit from the implementation of the points which are raised in chapter 7.