Creating real-world-relevant education

When Sung Kim was a child in South Korea, her father took her to see the industrial and commercial construction projects he supervised and showed her schematic drawings of his work.

Sung Kim, a UAA senior majoring in construction management, and UAA CM Professor Donn Ketner review architectural floor plans. Reading drawings is a skill taught in the CM curriculum. (Photo UAA Community & Technical College)
Sung Kim, a UAA senior majoring in construction management,
and UAA CM Professor Donn Ketner review architectural floor
plans. Reading drawings is a skill taught in the CM curriculum.
(Photo courtesy of UAA Community & Technical College)
Then, 14 years ago, the family moved to Alaska. Realizing construction is a universal process, Kim’s father decided to launch a remodeling company. Her father’s language barrier necessitated Kim’s engagement in administering the business. The experience proved to be a revelation.

“Although I was initially reluctant, I developed a passion for the way in which a small piece of material takes shape through the construction process and becomes meaningful to humans,” Kim said. “While working as my father’s interpreter, I realized I could not manage without knowledge of construction and a better understanding of the rules of this business.”

Kim enrolled in UAA’s Construction Management bachelor’s degree program offered through the Community & Technical College. Now, the senior has a cumulative grade-point average of 3.873. Tomorrow, she and three of her CM classmates—William Kelly, Michael Leiker and Emily Sobek—will receive Smith Memorial Foundation scholarships from the Associated General Contractors of Alaska (AGC).

Elliott Bauer, Jeff Luberski, Jin Chong and Jeremiah McClung deliver a presentation in Professor Donn Ketner’s capstone construction management class. (Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
Elliott Bauer, Jeff Luberski, Jin Chong and Jeremiah McClung
deliver a presentation in Professor Donn Ketner’s capstone
construction management class. (Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
AGC plays a key role in giving real-world relevance to UAA’s CM program, which awarded its first degrees in 2006. Three students received degrees that year. In 2014, 20 students graduated with CM degrees. The number of student credit hours in CM has risen dramatically—from 244 in 2005 to 1,800 in 2014.

The CM program’s advisory committee provides industry perspective, letting CM faculty know what they’re looking for in graduates so they can better tailor the program’s course offerings to fit CM industry needs. Members of the construction industry also network with students by supporting the AGC Student Club at  UAA, assisting with student competitions, sending guest speakers, supporting CM’s required internships, offering scholarship opportunities and hiring graduates.

Since 2005, the construction industry has donated a total of $454,399 to develop and support UAA’s CM program and its associated scholarships.

Preparing for a changing landscape


Candace Davis enrolled in UAA’s CM program as a part-time student in 2010 after leaving her longtime job with Home Depot to work for a local contractor, Marsh Creek LLC.

Jeff Luberski points to a slide during Professor Donn Ketner’s capstone construction management class. (Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
Jeff Luberski points to a slide during Professor Donn Ketner’s
capstone construction management class.
(Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
“In total, I’ve worked in the construction industry in some fashion for almost 15 years,” she said. “I had a couple of starts and stops in attempting college while I was at Home Depot, but because of the hours I kept as a manager, I found it was hard to dedicate time to school as well as my small growing family. At Marsh Creek, I found support to complete my degree as well as a willingness to work with a schedule that could vary from time to time.”

Her time at UAA changed the way she perceives the construction industry.

CM can be very complicated. How something is constructed or handled can vary drastically project to project, based on contract documents or the client, she said.

Over the summer, Davis traveled to a remote job site for Marsh Creek, as an intern. The job was located at Red Devil Mine, at the mouth of Red Devil Creek on the Kuskokwim River, and involved isolating contaminated soil and realigning the creek.

“This was a great experience as it allowed me to see a project I helped estimate prior to award come to full fruition,” she said. “Much of my time at Marsh Creek has been spent in the office on the project-management side of the business, and it was an awesome experience to be out where the action was happening.”

A student listens to presentations during Professor Donn Ketner's capstone construction management class. (Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
A student listens to presentations during Professor Donn Ketner's
capstone construction management class.
(Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
In Donn Ketner’s capstone CM class, Davis and her fellow students used the completed real-world Sand Lake Elementary School renewal project as a way to practice the organization and presentation skills needed to submit a construction-related proposal and participate in interviews.

“Each individual in our group is unique and brings different qualities to the table,” she said. “We have had to learn how to work with each other through each project and assign the best person to be the lead in our group.”

Davis, a parent of two elementary students who’s involved in PTA, has insight on how elementary schools run and where the school’s priority often exists.

“I am able to provide input to the team in these areas that are unique to other team members and ensure safety is a concern in the phasing of our job site planning,” she said.

Finding the perfect combination


Jin Chong originally intended to major in architecture, but after spending his first year of college at Washington State University, Chong realized architecture wasn’t his calling. Construction, however, was.

“When I found out UAA offered an accredited CM program, I decided to try it out,” he said. “I chose construction as my major because I did not want to spend my career in an office cubicle all day. I wanted to find the perfect combination of working out in the field, and also working indoors.”

Chong says CM students can tap into a variety of academic- and career-related resources and professors welcome questions and offer insights.

Professor Donn Ketner speaks to students in his capstone construction management class. (Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
Professor Donn Ketner speaks to students in his capstone
construction management class.
(Photo by Philip Hall/UAA)
“I feel like everything we learn is relevant in one way or another,” he said. “There were many times during my internship/summer work where I recalled topics discussed in class.”

In the CM program, Chong said, students learn about every facet of construction—including soils, equipment, estimating, scheduling, drafting, mechanical and electrical.

“There are so many branches of construction, and I feel like once somebody earns a CM degree, they can apply it in countless ways,” he said. “They don’t necessarily have to become construction managers right away.”

Teamwork plays an important role in construction.

“There are many entities working on a single construction project, and I feel like the CM program implements that well,” Chong said. “We have our fair share of individual projects, but group projects are very beneficial because they prepare us for the real world. Specifically on the Sand Lake Elementary project, we had to prepare for two major parts: the actual project itself, and then the presentation. Preparing the plans and the narrative was definitely the most difficult part.”

The most difficult part of the program, he said, is the additional work done outside of class.

“For the past three or four years, the majority of my weekends are spent at the University Center,” Chong said. “It’s almost a second home.”

Chong met one of EMC Engineering LLC’s project engineers at a UAA career fair.

“After a couple of interviews, I was offered a job,” he said. “I was able to apply my internship to this job—which is an actual CM course—and my job title was field inspector.”

He worked on multiple projects—from a Dutch Harbor/Unalaska airport renovation project to traffic signal projects in Anchorage and Wasilla.”

Chong hopes to work with EMC Engineering full time after graduating in April.

“Before this summer, I had zero construction work experience, and I’m extremely grateful that EMC was willing to give me an opportunity,” he said.

Putting the program together


Michael Swalling, owner of Swalling Construction Co., was among a group of contractors that put together private funding to develop the curriculum for the CM degree nearly a decade ago. He has served on UAA’s CM advisory committee ever since.

Construction managers now need to create a more complex skillset than they did in the past, said Swalling, who has a UAA-trained construction manager on his payroll.

“There are a few that come up through the ranks, but that’s hard,” he said. “Those that do have a lot of raw talent and are good self learners. But that’s not the usual course anymore. It really helps to have that degree because of the technical requirements. It’s harder to get hired without it because employers use that degree as a screening device. They want to make sure you have what it takes to get a four-year degree.”

Luke Blomfield grew up around construction. His father worked as a contractor and his grandfather was an architect. They operated a development company and Blomfield started working in the field for them while still in his teens.

“The people, they are the salt of the earth, down to earth,” he said of people working in the construction trades.

Blomfield attended California State University, Chico, to earn a CM bachelor’s degree and took a few CM courses at UAA. After completing his undergraduate degree, he returned to UAA to earn a master’s degree in project management.

He interned with Davis Constructors for three years and then attended night school as he worked at Davis full time.

“I was hired before I graduated,” he said. “I took my last classes at UAA so I could start work and finish my undergrad and transfer credits to Chico. I think I had three classes left.”

He became involved with the CM advisory committee to help keep UAA’s curriculum attuned to what’s needed in the workplace.

“[I wanted] to make sure students were learning that construction is not a last resort and can be a great career,” he said.

Written by Tracy Kalytiak, UAA Office of University Advancement. This article originally appeared in Green & Gold News on Oct. 15, 2014.

Share on :
Creating real-world-relevant education
Creating real-world-relevant education
Reviewed by sakerso mawon
Published :
Rating : 4.5

No comments:

Post a Comment

personal, fashion, travel, loan, insurance, health, real estate, home, marketing, personal, fashion, travel, loan, insurance, health, real estate, home, marketing,