The University of Houston today announced a partnership with Fluor to promote state-of-the-art training for students in the UH Department of Construction Management.
The partnership was cemented with a $1 million grant from the Fluor Foundation, Fluor’s philanthropic organization, which the University will use as a research grant to implement the project’s goals. It is the largest grant in the history of the construction management program.
The department offers two programs: an industrial track, geared toward training leaders for large-scale projects, including refineries and petrochemical plants, and a commercial building track. Industrial construction – especially along the Gulf Coast – is booming; the American Chemistry Council says more than 261 new chemical production projects have been announced since 2010, with a value of $158 billion.
“The idea is to integrate real-life work in our classrooms,” said Neil Eldin, founding chairman of the construction management department and interim dean of the College of Technology. “We’re partnering with Fluor, and instead of our industrial construction management students using fictitious reports and projects, we’ll have them working on real-world construction scenarios.”
Fluor, a global engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction company, is headquartered in Irving but has a large presence in Sugar Land. The College of Technology offers a number of programs at the UH Sugar Land campus.
“Fluor is continuously investing in our future,” said David Seaton, Fluor’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We are committed to developing a strong pipeline of the top construction minds and embracing their innovative ideas to make our projects safer, better and more cost-effective. This partnership is an integral part of Fluor’s sustained, long-term commitment to the construction industry and comes at a time when talented construction management personnel are in extremely high demand, especially with the number of ongoing projects in the United States.”
The UH program is the nation’s only construction management program to require that students pass the eight-hour American Institute of Constructors’ certification exam before graduating. Three UH students have earned the highest score in the nation since 2013.
The partnership with Fluor is intended to build on that success by ensuring the academic program meets industry needs. The partnership will support implementation of a Work-Integrated Program into the industrial construction management curriculum. The program will incorporate industry best practices, lessons learned and real-world project examples, ensuring students are trained on current challenges and scenarios instead of through historical case studies.
The research grant will be used for additional faculty, software and other technology needed to implement the partnership.
“My real intention is to make sure we are continuously state-of-the-art,” Eldin said. “It will keep academia in touch with what’s happening now, instead of what was happening three or four years ago.”