Public Affairs, The California State University

Constructing a Timeless Foundation

By Stephanie Thara

What goes into constructing a building? There are the architects who design a building, the engineers who plan the operations of a building and the construction workers who build a building. Then there are the construction managers who oversee the entire process ensuring a seamless completion of a building. Construction management programs at CSU campuses provide future professionals with the skill set necessary to successfully plan, coordinate, budget and supervise construction projects from beginning to end.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo construction management studentsThrough integrated curriculum, team competitions, participation in community construction projects and opportunities to network with industry professionals, students are able to establish a foundation of continued learning. CSU construction management programs prepare students for the field by emphasizing analytical and communication skills, engineering tactics, business/managerial fundamentals, and construction methods and procedures.

Construction management students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are able to participate in hands-on laboratories that blend curriculum from the architecture, architectural engineering, landscape architecture and city planning programs together.

“Through interdisciplinary curriculum, students are learning the means and methods of construction management,” said Allan Hauck, head of the construction management department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “In each lab, they are completely immersed into each industry. We’re pushing project-based learning to a new extreme.”

Students are able to put their classroom knowledge to the test by competing in regional and national construction competitions. In February, Sacramento State’s construction management squad took home six team victories during the Associated Schools of Construction competition. With the help of faculty and industry coaches, students dominated the competition which consisted of 16 hours to develop a solution and submit written proposals to a problem.

Chico State's Build Blitz TeamFuture construction professionals are also able to gain hands-on experience while helping the community. Students who are part of Chico State Blitz Build—an annual community service tradition started by the College of Engineering, Computer Technology and Construction Management—have contributed thousands of hours to help people affected by tragedies and disasters. Led by construction management scholars, students rebuilt four houses for residents in tornado-devastated Joplin, Missouri in 2012. In past years, students have built fire-resistant sheds for residents who lost their home in a wildfire, assisted in clean up and re-building after Hurricane Katrina and constructed transitional living houses for domestic violence victims.

Along with gaining experience through team competitions and community building projects, students are able to get familiar with the industry by networking and interacting with key industry professionals. The construction management advisory board at CSU Northridge provides a gateway for future construction professionals to meet established construction managers through seminars, internships and scholarship fundraising events.

“The program gives you a true sense of a professional constructor,” said Hauck. “We are proud to produce graduates who, at the end of the day, look back at the construction site and get excited that they had a hand in creating something that didn’t exist earlier that day.”