Pepper Construction wins AGC Innovation Award for AR/VR training

Dive Brief:

  • The Associated General Contractors of America announced the top three winners of its 2021 Innovation Award on Oct. 13, recognizing companies that are creating novel solutions to pressing industry challenges. 
  • The first-prize winner is Chicago-based contractor Pepper Construction, which created an augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) training program to help contractors train employees in safety procedures in an immersive, authentic yet safe way, according to an AGC release.
  • Judges award prizes by grading the solutions against each other in terms of impact and ingenuity. Sarah Gallegos, director of the AGC’s Building Division, said that in recent years, companies that lean toward robotics have had better chances of winning.

Dive Insight:

The award is broken up into first, second and third prizes. First place is a $7,000 reward, the second $3,500 and third $1,500. Below are the three winners from this year’s contest:

Pepper Construction


Pepper Construction created an AR/VR training environment that sought to tackle two things: the boredom that often accompanies safety training, and the one-way conversations that they often entail. The program, developed with BIM modeling and point-cloud scans, also involves Unity Engine, a software mainly used to develop video games.

Pepper used its own data, such as its injury history, to help make the program more targeted and believable.

“To be a safer contractor, to be more productive, we need to leverage other tools that really help us accomplish those goals,” said Jennifer Suerth, vice president of technical services at Pepper Construction.

Skiles Group

Richardson, Texas

Skiles Group, a general contracting and lean construction firm based in Richardson, Texas, won second place in the competition with its app, SmartSafety. Described as a “crisis management application” by Skiles Group COO Keyan Zandy in the video, the purpose is to make site-specific emergency response directives accessible at the touch of a button. 

Zandy said that the crisis management pipeline was “pretty antiquated” and that the app would cut down on response times, making dealing with these threats easier and quicker. Zandy said that the app leverages smartphone and geofencing technology, almost like an Amber Alert, with everyone on the jobsite having the ability to hit the “alert” feature to sound the alarm.

Patriot Construction

Dunkirk, Maryland

Patriot, a contracting firm based in Dunkirk, Maryland, won third place for developing individualized containment units to safely accommodate acutely sick COVID-19 patients that can support any medical facility. 

According to a Patriot press release, the units…

Read MorePepper Construction wins AGC Innovation Award for AR/VR training

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