Defining InnovationEvery construction project brings something new into the industry. In some ways it is always different from the previous ones. Innovation consists in exploiting advanced ideas to create new products or services that are technologically better than those already existing in the market. Innovations are introduced in order to make people’s life easier, improve productivity, view things differently, solve problems, and enhance living standards. The very process of innovation is always stimulated by the external environment: existing demand on the market, a client requesting to invent a method, material or technology, changing climate, etc. For example, a GPS-based Proximity Detection and Warning System is an innovation that has been triggered by the desire of the construction industry clients to get an accident free jobsite with a zero fatality rate for every construction project. The project gained success due to its numerous advantages, unavailable to the competing technologies, such as Radar, camera, UWB, RFID or laser detection systems. Precision, low cost and covering large areas enabled this innovation to quickly become successful and gain international recognition (Blue Electronics 2014). Tesla Motors’ innovation in electric cars manufacturing has been partially stimulated by the society’s growing ecological consciousness and necessity to change from gasoline powered vehicles to affordable electric cars. The fact that Tesla is the only automaker that creates zero-emission sports cars in serial production puts the company at an advantage  with competitors (Mangram 2012).

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However, it is important to make difference between innovation and invention. The above mentioned examples vividly illustrate that the innovation does not has to be new for everyone, only for those who are adopting it. Researchers agree (Seaden et al. 2003; Dulaimi et al. 2005) that ideas do not have to be new to the world, but to the particular industrial or organizational context in order to generate innovation. Developed in the 1960s, GPS technology was not new to the world, but the idea to use it in a Proximity Detection System for construction worksites was innovative.

The benefits gained by the industry and companies from innovation usually include successful exploitation of new ideas, increased sustainability and safety, time and cost reduction, efficient management of labor market issues and increase of benefits. For example, installing a GPS safety system on industrial vehicles in construction sites has had a positive impact on industry and society, as it helped to improve visibility problems and significantly reduced driver accidents and hazards to pedestrian workers and vehicles (Blue Electronics 2014).

Dr. John Jacob Crew Bradfield
Beginning of the last century in Australia witnessed the impact of modernism on civil engineering, architecture and city planning. The utilization of advanced construction materials and technologies coupled with innovative approaches in urban design and the necessity to introduce new models of transportation, entertainment and communication into the urban structure have produced significant changes in the construction environment.

John Bradfield is recognized to be one of the most prominent civil engineers of the previous century mainly for the innovational approaches that he used in design and construction of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge (Burke 2014). Born in Sandgate, Bradfield obtained a degree of Master in Civil Engineering from The University of Sydney in 1896. Being a young and talented expert he quickly made his career move: after working for Queensland Railways during one year, he gained a position in the Public Works Department and was soon appointed as a Principal Designing Engineer. Already one year later Bradfield started working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge – a project that made him famous worldwide. Bradfield has become the Chief Engineer for construction of metropolitan railway in 1913, and continued to supervise the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction before retiring in 1933. Bradfield received countless Australian and international honors including Telford Medal and  Lifetime Achievement Award from the Queensland Institute of Engineers (Burke 2014).

Sydney Harbour Bridge has become the most vivid manifestation of modernity, since Bradfield employed skills and technologies of advanced engineering in order to design the longest suspension bridge in the world (Nicholson 2000). The bridge is innovative in both construction methods and design. From the utilization of railway sleepers to vertical hangers positioning and new methods of asphalt rolling aimed at avoiding further cracking. The arch-based design of the bridge allowed to make it the tallest steel arch bridge as well, measuring 134 m. When Bradfield took charge over the project, he already had strong ideas of what the bridge will look like. The engineer visited Europe numerous times and inspected the famous arched Tyne Bridge built by Long and Dorman, and New York Hell Gate Bridge constructed by the Cleveland Bridge Company (Nicholson 2000).

I chose John Bradfield as a historical figure for this paper due to several reasons. First, he is recognized to be one of the most prominent engineers in the world and is awarded numerous international prizes for his contribution into civil engineering. He was the true master of his work, whose projects and designs were modern and futuristic. Having created stunning architectural masterpieces, he gained respect through an ability to create real world entities on the basis of his imagination combined with experience. Bradfield was ahead of his time, able to plan for the future things that others could not imagine. “He was always thinking of the future. He was the first man to plan and build for Sydney as a city with two million population” (Lang, 1980: 156).

Bradfield was interested in finding new initiatives and strategies to provide Sydney with a modern public transport system. He knew about the successful implementation of the electrified railways in the urban systems of many European and North American cities. Thus, Bradfield took the initiative of travelling to various countries in order to investigate the most efficient electric railway systems that were already in use. As a result he made proposals for Sydney’s railway system.

As it has already been mentioned earlier, innovation does not have to be new to everyone, only for those, who are adopting it. Bradfield visited numerous countries to inspect famous arch bridges and electrified railways and brought these innovative concepts to Australia. This makes Bradfield a true innovator whose success is recognized worldwide.

  • Blue Electronics. 2014. Personal Proximity Detection System Brochure. [online] Available at:
  • Burke, David. 2014. 30 Days On Australia”s Railways. Sydney: Rosenberg Publishing.
  • Dulaimi, M., Nepal, M. & Park, M. 2005. A hierarchical structural model of assessing innovation and project performance. Construction Management and Economics, 23(6), p.565-577.
  • Lang, J. T. 1980. I Remember. Katoomba, N.S.W.: McNamara’s Books.
  • Mangram, M. E. 2012. The Globalization Of Tesla Motors: A Strategic Marketing Plan Analysis. Routledge, 20(4), 289-312.
  • Nicholson, John. 2000. Building The Sydney Harbour Bridge. St Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.
  • Seaden, G., Guolla, M., Doutriaux, J. & Nash, J. 2003. Strategic decisions and innovation in construction firms. Construction Management and Economics, 21(6), p.603-612.