University of Houston Expands Construction Training Program

Creates new department for construction management program.

The University of Houston Board of Regents approved a program expansion that will equip technology students with a stronger foundation for elevating their professional skills and downsizing their competitors in the residential and commercial construction industries.

The College of Technology announced last week that it will be expanding the construction management program into a department, which will continue to be led by professor Neil Eldin, who was appointed program chairman in 2007.

“Students will now enjoy a higher level of exposure to employers that seek graduates from full-fledged (construction management) departments, not just CM programs,” Eldin said. “This differentiation means more internship opportunities, more job openings and higher salaries.”

Since Eldin was recruited, the program has increased to 500 students and 150 graduates from nearly 150 students and fewer than 10 graduates.

Although it already offers students bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the board’s decision to establish an official department reflects the University’s commitment to the curriculum and builds up the program’s credibility in the field, Eldin said in a press release.

The next big steps will be to increase research output, establish a reputation for students with impeccable computer proficiency and to become industry employers’ first choice for estimators.

“I want our curriculum to be the signature estimating program nationwide. Qualified estimators are a precious commodity in the construction industry,” Eldin said. “To develop such skills, we need the entire curriculum to support this goal (and) not just a couple of good estimating courses.”

The road toward an ideal status is only partially paved, but students are pushed to go the distance if they want to make it to graduation. It is the only construction management program in the country that requires students to pass the American Institute of Constructors’ national certification exam.

The eight-hour test includes 300 questions covering three subjects and is modeled after the fundamentals of engineering exam, which is later followed by the principle and practice exam, according to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

“Students are exposed to computer applications and tools in all respected construction management programs. However, there is a major difference between knowing something and being professional at it. Proficiency is our goal,” Eldin said.

Construction management senior Christopher Caldwell is the sponsorship officer for Associated Builders and Contractors and was elected by the department as president of UH’s student chapter of the Construction Management Association of America.

“The biggest skills that I believe students learn are estimating, planning and scheduling and contracts. You not only learn the skill, but more importantly, the software,” Caldwell said.

Throughout the program, students are trained to master Primavera p6 and On Center, which are industry standards.

Connections are another vital asset to the program, which currently has two advisory boards consisting of about 20 companies each.

“I have already gotten some good offers, but I hope to get on with one of my dream companies,” Caldwell said.

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