Industry leader Hilti provides hands-on tools, tech for students, partners with Construction Management Technology

Students in Construction management Technology speak with Hilti employees at the gift event. (Purdue University photo/Zach Rodimel)

Liaisons from Hilti Group, a Lichtenstein-based company focused on “big transformation(s)” in the construction industry, joined Purdue Polytechnic in Dudley Hall on Thursday, April 18 to gift a range of tools and initiate a partnership with the School of Construction Management Technology (CMT).

The tools in question included a spread across several categories of Hilti’s available products—this includes a variety of different “fastening” systems (which incorporates recognizable hand-drills in addition to more complex “anchor” systems designed for masonry and metal), saws and grinders as well as harnesses for work elevated above the ground.

Attendees at the Hilti event gather in Dudley Hall's construction lab. (Purdue University photo/Zach Rodimel)

“Hilti is really a world leader on this front, and what we see today in the CMT lab is just one piece of what they do,” said Mark Zimpfer, a CMT faculty member and the primary point-of-contact for Hilti within Purdue Polytechnic’s academic unit.

In addition to the hardware gifts, Zimpfer noted a deeper partnership with Hilti extending to complex software systems and pedagogical contributions.

“We’re going to be able to use our lab as a small-scale version of a real company’s job site, because of the technology built in to Hilti’s tools. We can see, for instance, tool-use rates. … That will allow students to look back on a project and say, ‘well, we have 12 saws on site and we’re only using eight of them, 80% of the time.’ These are pretty fundamental modern tools that enable efficiency and save companies time and money.”

Zimpfer also stated that the department doesn’t want Hilti’s contribution to “end at the lab,” and wants to make sure that their safety experts and structural engineers are brought into the classroom to teach and discuss the current construction industry with Purdue Polytechnic’s students.

“Purdue’s approach dovetails with our own strategy beautifully,” John Wuebbeling said. Wuebbeling, Hilti’s division manager for the entire central region of the United States, pointed to the company’s strategic goals outlined in an official document entitled “Lead 2030,” which delineates steps designed to achieve the ambitious goal of “making construction better.”

A display of new drills provided by Hilti. (Purdue University photo/Zach Rodimel)

The Hilti Group plainly describes the impetus to achieve such a goal:

“Historically, construction has been a traditional industry; workflows and processes have not fundamentally changed for generations. … [While construction] creates jobs for millions of people, provides housing to almost everyone living on our planet, and builds commercial, industrial and civil infrastructures that enable economic growth, [the industry] has not delivered on productivity over past decades. Skilled labor is in short supply and health and safety issues are abundant on jobsites. Carbon emissions are high and continue to rise.”

Wuebbeling expressed optimism that branching out into an educational partnership provides both Hilti and Purdue with the opportunity to “make an impact in the parts of this industry where it truly matters.”

Zimpfer specified several faculty partners—Anthony Sparkling, Ryan Manuel, Jason Merchant and interim department head Hubo Cai—who will help carry Hilti’s tools and expertise into the department’s curriculum. At the event, word abounded that even after a year of planning, Thursday’s event was not the “finish line” on the partnership, but a “beginning.”

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