Tread team member feature: Alex Poole – Research Engineer

We interviewed Alex to get insights about incorporating AI solutions to the construction industry.

alex_poole_research_engineer

Could you please tell us about your background and your current role?

My current role at Tread is a Research Engineer. My work is primarily divided between software development on our reporting and optimization features, and doing research on using artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced algorithms to reduce inefficiencies in the industry. I completed my Masters in AI at the University of Toronto and I’ve been fortunate enough to start my career getting to work on problems relevant to what I spent years studying.

What do you like most about your job?

My favourite part about Tread is the team I get to work with. Collaborating and learning from such an awesome and talented group of people has been invaluable to me. As someone who is early on in their career, I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to grow.

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I enjoy watching sports, two of my favourite teams are the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Blue Jays. I also enjoy cooking and making a cocktail or two on the weekend.

As a research engineer, what’s an average work day like for you?

The fundamental aspect of my job is problem solving, some of these problems may take only a day but some more complex problems can take years. Most days my work is heads down working on tasks to get a feature ready for clients. I also get to spend some of my time working on research, working with data and exploring ways of incorporating AI into the application in a way that would be useful. 

How do you approach incorporating AI solutions to the construction industry’s problems?

Everything starts with the value we’re looking to bring to our clients. We’re looking for inefficiencies in the industry and providing solutions that will make an impact. We approach these problems by analyzing the data, and working with clients to try to understand nuances in their every day process. Once we’ve collected enough data we explore how AI can be best used to provide insights, make predictions, and offer recommendations.

What are some of the biggest challenges you anticipate in bringing AI to the construction industry?

I think one of the biggest challenges we face is how some of these solutions will be received. There is a common misconception that AI’s purpose is to replace people’s jobs. However, our goal is to make people’s jobs easier by supporting them with tools, insights and information they wouldn’t have access to without AI.

Can you name a few changes you’d expect to happen in the construction industry in the future?

I think the industry is going to rely on using data analytics. In order to do that to the full capability of the industry, it would be best if data were standardized across the industry. That would allow for comparisons across companies and providing more insightful analysis.

Is there a problem and solution that you’d love to work on in the future in the construction industry?

I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one problem. I’m interested in solving any problem that relates to optimization. A few problems I’m currently excited to start working on are long term scheduling of projects, realtime same day dispatch, analytics and recommendations for site efficiency, and continuing to incorporate data analytics anywhere we can.

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