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College of Continuing Education News

From the Construction Management Faculty

Ann Johnson, Faculty Director
Peter Hilger, Faculty Member

What Exactly Do Construction and Facility Managers Do?
Construction management (CM), and its newer subspecialty facility management (FM), are great options for students who have a passion for hands-on knowledge of how the built environment is put together, from houses to highways. Though this career usually involves desk work, construction managers also spend a lot of time outdoors. They need to be ready for constant change and comfortable with high levels of personal interaction.

Construction management consists of a wide array of specializations in both the building process itself and of facilities after they are built. A construction manager ensures the successful transformation of design into structure as, for example, a field engineer working in the trenches day in and day out; an office-based project manager; or an estimator or accountant working on a school, a highway, or an apartment building.

A facility manager learns to see the entire life-cycle of a structure and could work as, for example, a systems specialist, a space planner, or a maintenance manager. FMs ensure safe, sustainable facility operation that continually serves constituents, and they are integral to the success of many businesses. Facility management is gaining in importance as more buildings are renovated or repurposed and new buildings are getting more costly, increasing pressure to maintain existing facilities. In addition, many of the existing FM workforce will retire, and there are nowhere near enough professionals in those ranks to replace them.

Construction employment is always sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, but will continue to grow as a result of advances in building technology, materials, and methods, combined with the increasing needs for energy-efficient structures and replacement of portions of the nation's infrastructure. Prospects are best for those with a bachelor's degree plus practical experience. Construction management employers include building contractors, specialty trade contractors, architectural and engineering service firms, and government agencies.

With or without any construction work experience, if a student has an affinity toward the built environment--an interest in the tangible results of specialties like architecture or carpentry--construction management could be an area worth exploring.

What Makes the CCE Program So Unique?
The Construction Management program at the College of Continuing Education is the only program in the Midwest that encompasses the entire construction life cycle: residential and commercial building, highway/heavy and civil works, and residential and commercial facility management. The late afternoon or evening classes permit students to combine work and study, and the program is centrally located in a large metro area, with connections to many construction and facility industry constituents. Courses are taught by professionals who serve as engineers, construction managers, attorneys, and risk managers by day. They introduce students to real-life construction projects and the issues that accompany them. Study options include an advanced-standing bachelor's degree, and an 18-credit certificate and minor. The CM internship program, required for the major, has a great track record of placing students into positions with our industry constituents.

The CM program also provides unique interrelationships with many other disciplines, and the hundreds of U of M buildings and facilities are available to expose students to real-life design and construction scenarios. A great example of cross-University collaboration is the 2009 Solar Decathlon, an annual international contest that challenges college students to create houses completely off the power grid, which are then displayed on the Washington Mall for 10 days of 10 contests (hence decathlon). Combining the talents of CM students and those from other University departments, the U of M entered for the first time with its ICON House, and came away with two first place finishes in engineering and lighting, and fifth place overall. The CM team was responsible for design teamwork, developing the construction details, constructing the house on the St. Paul campus, deconstructing and transporting the house in large sections over the road to D.C., and re-assembling the house on the National Mall--a true design/build project delivery.

To see a video of the ICON House and for more information about the program, visit the Construction Management home page.

See the Career and Internships web page to learn about the career paths of some recent CM graduates.

ann_johnson.jpg Ann Johnson, faculty director
Ms. Johnson is the faculty director of the Construction Management degree program, where she manages the development and delivery of curricula. She is a professional engineer (PE) registered in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. She has also served as a teaching specialist in the Civil Engineering Department for the last 13 years, teaching CADD, highway design, AutoCAD, and surveying. In addition, she teaches courses in highway design and construction materials for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Aggregate Ready Mix Association. She began her career as an engineer in the Airports Department at HNTB Corporation, and supervised the reconstruction of the Benson Municipal Airport and projects at the St. Paul Downtown Airport. She then worked at Braun Intertec as a senior engineer in the Pavements Division. She has served as the specific pavement section coordinator for the FHWA Long Term Pavement Performance Project in the North Central Region. She holds a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, and an M.S. in civil engineering with a pavement emphasis from the University of Minnesota.

peter_hilger.JPG Peter Hilger, faculty member
An architect by training, a builder by passion, and a teacher at heart, Peter Hilger has served the Construction Management program since its inception in 1994, and he received the CCE Distinguished Educator Award in 2009. In the classroom, Peter brings his construction and business experience to bear with an approach that challenges students to think beyond the facts and figures, communicate thoughtfully, and support decisions with sound reasoning and rationale. He counsels faculty and administration on strategic planning and program development, serves on the College of Continuing Education Academic Advisory Council, and informally advises students on career matters. Peter uses "constructive creativity" for the Design/Build delivery of public/private educational, commercial and industrial projects, as well as consulting on development planning, zoning approvals and expert testimony in his current firm, Rylaur, LLC. He received a B.S. in architecture from Georgia Tech in 1978, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon in 1980. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Megan Seltz, academic adviser
Megan is the academic adviser for all Construction Management students. She is always happy to talk with students about admission, course transferability, prerequisite courses, major requirements, and general University information. Prospective students should submit a Request for a Planning Chart and then schedule an in-person or phone appointment with Megan to discuss earning a degree in Construction Management.

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