The construction industry is a significant segment of Oregon’s economy. Highly competitive, the businesses within the industry have created a strong demand for university-educated managers. Traditionally, most managers come from a civil engineering or construction engineering degree background. Now, a new OSU master’s program will combine critical business skills with training in advanced construction management, to prepare students for top positions in industry, regulatory agencies, consulting firms, and municipalities.
The Master of Business and Engineering in Construction Engineering Management will open management-level educational opportunities to people already working in the field, as well as students new to the construction industry. Most existing graduate programs in construction engineering management require students to have an undergraduate degree in engineering. OSU’s program will accept qualified candidates with any B.S. degree from an accredited program if they also have three or more years of professional construction industry experience.
The program is funded primarily through the Robert C. Wilson Graduate Program in Construction Engineering Management. Dr. David Sillars, who holds the endowed Wilson Chair, says construction industry leaders have been instrumental throughout the planning and design of the MBE program.
“We’ve been hearing from people in the industry for years that they need graduates with a combination of business and engineering skills. Our alumni and other people in firms around the northwest all confirm that the demand is out there. We expect to draw students from across the United States.”
The expectation is that many students will continue working in their construction industry jobs while they pursue the degree. CEM courses will be coordinated with MBA classes, so that a student could attend the program part-time and miss just one afternoon of work each week. At that rate, with up to 15 transfer credits from another university, the course would take two years; full-time students can finish the program in a year.
Students have the option of completing an internship or additional coursework. For those who are currently working in the construction industry, the internship may take the form of a special project in the workplace, tackling an existing problem with the skills they’ve acquired in the MBE program.
“The idea is that people should be able to get this degree without interrupting their careers,” says Sillars. “In order to do that, you have to form a partnership with the employer. It’s a win-win situation.”
Four new courses being developed for the MBE will also be open to students in the existing MS in Civil Engineering program. Three of these courses are already being offered, and several students are taking them with an eye toward the new degree program. The MBE in Construction Engineering Management will be officially operational in the fall of 2004.