Ironman: LSU engineers designing wearable exoskeleton for construction industry 

LSU construction management and engineering professors are collaborating with Rutgers University to create wearable, robotic technologies to improve worker safety at construction sites.  

Department of Construction Management Professor Chao Wang, Professor of Industrial Engineering Fereydoun Aghazadeh and the team at Rutgers have received a $150,000 planning grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a wearable exoskeleton, which could protect construction workers, who make up 21% of worker fatalities each year according to OSHA. The grant will enable the team to compete with other research projects for an additional $3 million in NSF funding. 

Their project has three goals: 1) develop lightweight, flexible, high-performance, personalized wearable exoskeletons for construction workers, 2) develop machine learning-based human skill modeling and training in construction, and 3) initiate new cross-disciplinary collaboration between industry partners and stakeholders.

“Construction workers get hurt for three reasons,” Aghazadeh says. “Number one, they are tired. Number two, the task is beyond their capacity. Number three, they are not properly trained. If they don’t have the capacity to do the physical work, how can we enhance their physical capability? We can give them more power. This project is all about that.”

Wang, who serves as the project’s principal investigator, says there are a few exoskeleton products currently available on the market, but they mainly target the industrial/manufacturing setting. The exoskeleton is still a new concept in construction because a construction site is more dynamic and complicated. Read the full LSU announcement.