Bachelor of Science in Building Construction Returns to Georgia Tech

The Georgia Tech School of Building Construction will reactivate the Bachelor of Science in Building Construction undergraduate program beginning Fall Semester, 2020. 

The program stopped admitting students in 2010 due to the effects of the national recession. Ten years later, the School of Building Construction offers a program built on progressive technology and integrated construction solutions, said Daniel Castro-Lacouture. 

“Our new, integrated approach to building construction prepares students in a more holistic way, rather than focusing primarily on construction and the housing sector, which was deeply impacted by the Great Recession,” Castro-Lacouture said. “It affected all construction programs in the nation, but we learned from that experience and have a stronger and more unique program as a result.”

The new bachelor’s degree incorporates perspectives of construction contractors, owners, and facility managers, he said. 

“The way owners and facility managers take on risk is different from the way contractors do. We want our students to understand that.”

Today’s buildings require students to have a better understanding of how the structures work and how occupants interact with and within those spaces because the building’s performance is scrutinized and monitored, Castro-Lacouture said. “Our new program addresses the increasing number of skillsets required to undertake modern facility management.”

And like most Georgia Tech programs, it incorporates the use and early adoption of technology, and prepares students for roles that did not exist ten years ago in the construction industry, like virtual design and construction management, or drone-assisted project monitoring.

“Before the recession, technology was used in the construction industry for evident tasks, such as estimating, scheduling, surveying,” he said. 

“But now we have a proliferation of tools that are literally supporting every single construction management function. The fact that we can simulate the building before it’s built -- in terms of constructability, energy, occupancy, safety, environmental systems -- that’s a game changer.”

This pragmatic approach is an exciting addition to the College of Design’s existing undergraduate majors, said Steven P. French, dean and John Portman Chair of the College.

“The revised program will provide a strong complement to the design focus of the Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Having these two perspectives will provide our students with a more complete understanding of the issues and challenges associated with both the design and the construction of the built environment,” French said.

A focus on new technologies sets the curriculum apart from traditional construction programs, he said, and capitalizes on the strengths of Georgia Tech. It’s also a deliberate addition to the College’s technology-focused design education.

College of Design executive advisory board member Greg Gegner (ISYE’07) agrees.

“Construction is more than just pouring concrete and erecting steel. There’s a vast array of aspects that we touch, from coordination, to sustainability and adapting to our environment, to being more innovative and forward-thinking when it comes to using technology,” he said. 

As a project manager for DPR in Atlanta, Georgia, Gegner said a technology-focused education is critical for today’s construction professional. Students in the new building construction program will learn about 3D printing, the use of drones, robotics, and augmented reality.

“As global technology quickly advances, infrastructure is needed for that advancement to happen. People expect a change in the built environment in order to work with these new technologies. There’s a lot of funding, a lot of support for that,” in today’s construction industry, Gegner said.

And there’s demand for a technically savvy workforce, he said.

“A lot of companies have offices in Atlanta or they are moving hubs here because of the resources the city offers - like Georgia Tech’s graduates and research faculty,” Gegner said. “Atlanta’s growth over the last ten, 15 years is also important. You see the skyline changing daily here.”

Bachelor of Science in Building Construction classes will introduce students to many different kinds of active construction sites in Atlanta, Castro-Lacouture said, but it will also encourage academic diversification.

“The program allows students to pursue a minor or certificate. In fact, we will encourage all of our students to do this,” he said. “It can be in leadership, business, sustainable cities, or in any other program offered across campus. So our students will have the opportunity to apply what they learn in building construction to different domains.”

“There is also an entrepreneurship component to the program that teaches students business concepts and communication. They will be prepared to start a business venture related to building construction or technologies that improve the construction processes of the future,” Castro-Lacouture said. 

The new, improved degree program is designed to meet the demand for construction education in Georgia, but it’s also rousing alumni, Gegner said.

“I didn’t participate in the building construction program while I attended Tech, but found myself in the construction industry. As a student I completed multiple construction internships and determined that was the career path I wanted.”

“I was disappointed to learn the degree was closed. However, soon after I joined the Executive Advisory Board, they started looking into bringing the program back, which I was happy to hear,” he said.

“Especially now, working in the industry, I wish I would have attended the School.”

Students interested in learning more about this major should contact the School of Building Construction.

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Ann Hoevel
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