The prevention of construction site injuries was the focus of an award-winning poster presentation made by civil engineering student Michael Kuku, Jr. this past September.
A native of Atlanta, Kuku, 22, was recognized for his work, entitled “Proximity Sensing and Warning Technology Evaluation for Heavy Construction Equipment Operation” which was presented during the AGMUS Research Symposium held in Puerto Rico on September 22. The poster was the result of research Kuku did this summer during a faculty-mentored internship with Georgia Tech Associate Professor Dr. Jochen Teizer.
The Ana G. Mendez University System (AGMUS) Student Research Development Center made the award as a part of its AGMUS/NSF Institute of Mathematics for the Caribbean Computing Center for Excellence.
Kuku said some startling statistics drew him to the subject of workplace safety.
“The construction industry only employs 8 percent of the workforce in the United States but, between 2003 and 2010, it accounted for 20.7 percent of the fatal workplace injuries,” he said.
Under the auspices of a joint National Science Foundation - Georgia Tech Material Research Science and Engineering Center grant, Kuku studied worksite injuries and explored the efficacy of various injuruy mitigation technologies and practices. His work was undertaken in Georgia Tech’s Real-time Automated Project Information and Decision Systems (RAPIDS) laboratory.
“The primary objective of this research was to review and evaluate the capabilities of current and emerging proximity detection and warning systems to provide alerts when heavy construction equipment and workers are in too close proximity to each other,” he said. “This research presents a fundamental analysis of the implementation of several types of proximity detection/warning systems that provide workers with a ‘second chance’ if another safety best practice is disregarded.”
Kuku looked at widely used proximity-warning systems including radar, geographical positioning systems (GPS), radio frequency identification (RFID), magnetic marking fields, and vision detection devices.
“The results suggested that safety can be improved on construction jobsites by implementing real-time proximity sensing and warning technology,” he said.
The RAPIDS laboratory focuses on construction safety and technology research and education in the construction, mining, transportation, and infrastructures sectors. Currently, the research group focuses on real-time pro-active safety warning and alert technologies, equipment blind spot measurement, operator visibility tracking, wireless 3D real-time resource location, and 4D (building) information modeling and processing, site layout management, and an inference management framework with a heavy emphasis on real-time pro-active safety, health, and work activity monitoring and sampling.
Kuku plans to graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in civil engineering in the fall of 2013.