The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Program created in wake of construction

Last year, the College of Engineering and Computer Science established the Construction Management Technology Program because of a strong demand from the surrounding community.

“Look around you,” said Mohamed Hegab, professor and adviser for the program. “There is construction all around L.A.”

He is right. Everywhere you look, something is being built or land is being prepped for building. The number of construction projects in Los Angeles and surrounding communities, such as the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County, is increasing, yet the number of qualified construction managers to work on these projects is not enough to keep up with the pace.

That is where the CMT program at CSUN comes in. The curriculum prepares students for careers as construction managers, which in basic terms, according to Hegab, means they oversee building projects on construction sites that architects have designed and civil engineers have plotted. In short, they are an increasingly important factor in the overall process of constructing a building.

Traditionally, Hegab explained, civil engineers, or those who plot the measurements of buildings according to the architectural drawing and amount of land available for use, would gain an education in engineering but lack the skills needed to become a project manager. Such skills include cost analysis, managing the costs and quality of building, determining employees’ schedules and understanding laws that govern the industry.

Hegab, who has a doctorate in civil engineering and has been a construction engineer for 12 years, can relate to this. When he started in the industry, there were no programs that offered a streamlined education targeted directly for this field, so he had to gain that knowledge by going to school for another year. He said many other civil engineers have followed the same route.

The program, which currently only offers a bachelor of science degree, looks promising. Hegab said they started with roughly 35 students and now there are about 90 in the program, ranging from freshmen to seniors.

One senior, David Rohde, said he recognizes the growing prospects of the industry. He said he received 20 e-mails from different construction companies offering him internships. This summer, he took an offer from the Building ‘ Safety Division of the City of Simi Valley’s Department of Environmental Services.

“I had my own domain there ? I worked independently,” said Rohde, who said he felt prepared to take on managerial duties himself without much supervision. Hegab said it is not uncommon that students will have a supervisor while interning, but be left alone to handle things for themselves.

“Through courses taken here, students should be able to work on their own,” Hegab said.

The 20 job prospects Rohde received serve as an indication that although CSUN has aided the local industry by providing skilled people, the demand still far exceeds the supply. Hegab said many students who receive multiple offers will try to take on two internships at once and see which one is better. He has found himself advising them to take one and stick with it, “because no matter what it is a good opportunity,” he said.

Hegab said the expected salary for a construction manager just out of college is about $45,000 to $60,000 a year. He admits that he downplays the potential earnings to students. “We say they can expect about $45,000, but in reality a first-year salary is usually much higher,” he said.

Although students do not get credit for interning, they must be compensated for their time. “They are working, so they should be paid,” said Hegab. Often, students come to him with hopes of graduating faster. Hegab pointed to his pockets to emphasize that students get excited about the pay and want to start working full-time right away.

Rohde said, “Statistically, 80-90 percent of students will get hired by the companies they intern for? An internship is a gateway into a company. The City of Simi (Valley) wants me back. They said they’d make room for me.”

Hegab recalled one student’s experience: “He got a job offer in April, and he graduates in December.”

Though there were struggles in getting the program off the ground, Hegab said there was a “lot of pushing” from companies in the Valley. Northridge-based D.S. Honda Construction, Inc. in particular “went to work with us to get the program running.”

Representatives from construction companies constitute the industrial advisory board, which sponsors the program and “promise internships to students.”

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