Mohamad Kassem

Professor in Digital Construction and Engineering

Mohamad Kassem
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Mohamad is an expert consultant and researcher with over 10 years of experience in Digital Construction and BIM, responsible for bringing bleeding edge research into BIM Academy’s consultancy. Mohamad works with organisations from across the entire supply (Architects & Consultants, Contractors, Owners & Facility Managers, and Manufacturers) on strategic and operational BIM topics. He advises organisations about BIM policies, BIM implementation, BIM ROI, BIM compliance assessment and BIM technologies. He is supporting several committees and policy makers around the world, including an official role as a consultant appointed at EU level to the Brazilian Government with responsibility for developing a BIM adoption roadmap for Brazil.

How would you summarise your current role?

I investigate multidisciplinary topics related to digital transformation and digitalisation of construction and built environment from multiple perspectives including technology, process, people and policy perspectives.

I am very interested to co-create problems and solutions with the industry. Working with the industry, I was awarded and delivered several research and innovation projects (total value more than £4m) from Innovate UK, Horizon 2020, British Council, Centre for Digital Built Britain, CITB, ERDF, Qatar Foundation, and private sector. I have had several appointments in advisory roles to the European Commission, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Centre of Digital Built Britain, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). I collaborate and assist several committees and policy makers around the world, including several official appointments as an advisor to governments and public sector bodies. Iprovide expert evaluation to several funding bodies in the UK, the EU (Horizon2020) and North America.

Other current roles include Head of Subject for the Construction Project Management at Northumbria, the Leader of the Built Environment Digital Futures research group, and the Chair of the Human Data Interaction technical committee of the European Council for Computing in University Newcastle.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of inspiration from interacting with my students who are the future problem solvers for the construction industry. Their willingness and attitude to learn new skills and use such skills to change and revolutionise processes within the industry is truly inspiring despite they know the industry is not fully ready to embrace the change.

What do you believe are the current challenges in our industry and how can we overcome them?

There are many challenges. The top one is procurement that is creating unnecessary fragmentation and causing lots of casualties in the supply chain through litigation and payment structure. If these challenges are not addressed, it is as if the industry wants to continue shooting itself in the foot.

The low R&D spend is another key challenge. The industry needs to increase their R&D spend especially in digitalisation and data-centric approaches. The two goes hand in hand. If maturity of information management is not improved, the industry is unlikely to reach a notable advancement in data-centric approaches. Information management is the foundational layer that the industry must address before moving into data-centric approaches, cyber-physical system (e.g. digital twin), etc.

What is your proudest moment?

Being a father to four kids who are all close in age while maintaining my professional progression on-going until the recent promotion to Full Professor is the proudest thing I have ever done. Credit goes to my wife without her this would not have been possible.

What added value do you bring to your projects?

The key value is my lateral thinking as I often look to problems in a fresh way to come up with solutions. I add value by promptly assimilating the state of the art around the challenge being addressed, and by bringing a methodological order to address and resolve the challenge.

What’s going to be the next big thing for the digital built environment?

I think Cyber-Physical integration is likely to be big on the agenda. It is highly likely to grow in operation and service delivery but less likely during capital delivery.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

We all live one life. Take calculated risks and do not settle for the ordinary. You are more likely to success if you follow a path that interests you without the exclusion of other values (love, respect, honesty, cooperation).