The centre will specialise in finding new ways of automating the construction process and will be headed by the “Laing O’Rourke Professor of Automation in Construction”.
O’Rourke already runs a construction centre with Cambridge University and will start courses for an “MBA in Engineering” at Imperial College, London later this year.
The new Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering at Oxford will focus on interdisciplinary research relevant to the construction industry.
It will build on existing expertise at Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and other departments around the University, such as the Department of Materials and the Oxford e-Research Centre, to improve construction methods and processes.
The founding of the Centre will lead to the creation of two new academic posts: the Laing O’Rourke Professor of Automation in Construction and the Centre Director.
Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science is at the forefront of research in areas such as control engineering, computer vision, and mobile robotics and navigation.
The Professor of Automation in Construction and Centre Director will bring additional expertise in such areas as control, automation, and materials for construction.
The research will help O’Rourke strengthen its position at the forefront of introducing manufacturing and off-site construction methods to the industry.
Ray O’Rourke, Laing O’Rourke’s Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “The global trends influencing the built environment over the next 25 years will demand new and radical approaches to how we engineer and construct buildings and infrastructure in the future.
“This collaboration with University of Oxford will play a vital role in the research and development of viable and sustainable solutions to meet this challenge, advancing Laing O’Rourke’s already well-established manufacturing and assembly capabilities.
“This new construction engineering centre will provide a ‘boundaryless’ and dynamic environment, unburdened by the usual corporate distractions that exist in large organisations, providing the brightest engineering minds with the freedom to explore and innovate for the benefit of our industry and society at large.”
Professor Guy Houlsby, Head of Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science, said: “This new Centre represents a completely new way for the construction industry to engage with research in engineering, and the Department of Engineering Science is the ideal place to respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing industry.
“We hope to work closely with Laing O’Rourke to bring new manufacturing and automation techniques to the construction industry, as well as working in other areas of common interest.”