The longtime university partner continues its support for an initiative to help students gain hands-on experience in the construction industry.
Dec. 1, 2020

All University of Arizona engineering students graduate with a wealth of real-world experience, like working with industry and contributing to international research collaborations. Through visits to construction sites, engaging with guest speakers and completing internships, students in the Construction Engineering Management emphasis get an extra helping of hands-on learning to prepare them for careers in construction.

Sundt Construction, a longtime UArizona partner, is supporting the Construction Engineering Management program with a $250,000 endowment. The program is housed in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Mechanics.

“Most people don’t know how interesting and rewarding construction is until they’re exposed to it,” said Mike Hoover, president and chief executive officer of Sundt Construction. “That’s the real value of a program like this — introducing bright young minds to an industry that offers meaningful work.”

Dean Papajohn, associate professor of practice in civil and architectural engineering and mechanics and head of the construction engineering management focus, said Sundt has been supportive of the program since it was first established in 2015. The company hosts construction site visits for students, provides guest speakers, and hires the program’s students as interns and employees. The company also contributed to the Beavers Heavy Construction Endowed Scholarship. While working at Sundt, some students have even had the opportunity to help build new parts of the university.

“Our alumni and interns have worked on the Student Success District, as well as other construction projects,” Papajohn said. “Sundt employees are regular guest speakers in my classes, and they give insight from a variety of perspectives.”

Sundt’s partnership with the university stretches back to long before the program’s existence. The Student Success District, which is currently under construction, is the company’s 58th project on the Arizona campus. More than 30 of Sundt’s leaders graduated from Arizona, and nearly two-thirds of those studied engineering.

The Construction Engineering Management program has expanded in many ways since its inception five years ago. Most recently, the program added a 12-unit undergraduate certificate option for students not majoring in engineering. Because construction is such a collaborative industry, the certificate offers students in fields such as architecture, real estate, business and public administration the opportunity to develop expertise that could serve them in their careers. With job opportunities for construction managers expected to grow 24.8% in Arizona by 2028, according to Burning Glass Technologies, it’s a lucrative field to consider.

“Having this certificate opens up a lot of options for students,” said Hoover, who earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from UArizona in 1983. “They often come out ahead of regular civil engineering students, because they’ve been exposed to things like scheduling and the many complexities of construction. We’ve seen that students coming out of this program are more advanced than they would otherwise be.”

This story originally appeared on the College of Engineering site.