Kirk Alter provides instruction for the PHCC Educational Foundation’s Super Foremen Workshop, May 5-6, 2023 at the Viega Seminar Center in Broomfield, Colorado.

Foremen Get Unexpected Lesson on Artificial Intelligence at PHCC Super Foremen Workshop

May 10, 2023
Purdue University Professor Emeritus Kirk Alter shows some of the practical uses of ChatGPT during the PHCC's Super Foremen Workshop.

FALLS CHURCH, VA – “How many of you have heard of ChatGPT?” was the question asked to the foremen attending the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC) Educational Foundation’s popular Super Foremen Workshop last week. Purdue University Professor Emeritus Kirk Alter posed the question to the 26 attendees in the two-day class conducted May 5 and 6 at the Viega Seminar Center in Broomfield, Colorado. A few attendees had heard of ChatGPT, but none had used it.

“Foremen in our industry are comfortable with the tools that they keep in the jobsite box,” said Alter in the class. “But as the first line of company management, please realize that your best tools now are going to be technology and software. Artificial intelligence, A.I., is one of those software tools that foremen should be using. You just haven’t seen why yet.” Alter then led the class through entering prompts into the platform, generating helpful output.

Not Just for Office Workers

Alter introduced a scenario where a foreman needs a standard operating procedure to guide a new apprentice through the steps required for installing underground piping. The attendees worked for about 15 minutes to create a step-by-step list. “Okay, now let’s ask the A.I. for the same thing!” Alter described what was needed using just two sentences typed into the ChatGPT platform. Within a few seconds, the software had used its resources to generate a detailed installation instruction sheet that included important steps that the human audience had missed.

Alter then put the A.I. to work generating a list of construction finance books to read, calculating duct installation productivity rates and generating a construction delay notification letter to a general contractor. “This is not just a tool for office workers,” said Alter. “You can put this to work for you as well. Like any tool, if you know how to use it properly, it will save you time and give you an advantage over others who are not using it.”

Hosted by Viega

Viega hosted the workshop at their Broomfield, Colorado Seminar Center, and generously provided A/V, meals for the attendees and more. “We appreciate the work Viega has done to host our classes this year,” said John Zink, VP of Development and Communications at the PHCC Educational Foundation. “The purpose-built classroom space is a perfect fit for our training, and the interactive displays onsite help attendees learn about new installation possibilities with Viega’s various product lines. Plus, the Viega team is always a pleasure to work with.”

Project managers and foremen who wish to register for future offerings of the Foundation’s Essentials of Project Management class or the Super Foremen Workshop can add their names to the notification lists for these sessions at: Kirk Alter will also be presenting two sessions during PHCC CONNECT 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio this October.

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