Thanks to his experience from the Construction Engineering Management – or CEM – program, Isaac Giles demonstrated he was already so familiar with scheduling that a debrief from his boss at Hensel Phelps ended up being more like a conversation.
As an alumnus of the class of 2015, Gilles was part of a group of students who took one of the earliest CEM courses offered at the University of Arizona. The undergraduate discipline focus came about in 2012 in response to local construction companies wanting new hires with more experience in construction specialties. A number of companies and some alumni funded a new course to equip students with these skills.
Kevin Lansey, CAEM department head in 2012, initially hired Dean Papajohn, a civil engineering manager for the Pima County Department of Transportation, to teach the first CEM course as an adjunct professor. Giles said that Papajohn, now a professor of practice, taught phenomenal and practical courses with real-world-applicable education such as live construction site visits.
Industry partners also benefit from the students' real-world experience.
"We get to come in and identify the top talent,” said Travis McCarthy, transportation group vice president and operations manager for Sundt, which has been involved since day one with financial backing, site visits, in-class guess speakers and career advising. "We also get to discuss the aspects of construction in a sense that will make students more knowledgeable upon their graduation."