The Changing Face of Graduate Degrees in Engineering and Construction

Education is always a very touchy subject in construction. I’ve certainly noticed some unspoken dissension between the school of hard-knockers and the book-smart engineering kids. One time when we were setting up a new office in the storage closet of the building, a boss told me that nobody with a master’s degree is allowed to use the power tools. C’mon guys can’t we just respect each other?

The reality is that education has forcefully permeated the construction industry right down to the subcontractor tradesman. Unfortunately for some, it is not going away and it’s only going to get bigger and more specialized. So the question we need to ask is not if we should go to grad school, but rather, what kind of graduate degree is best for a career in construction. So, what is it?

I’m sorry, but the answer is just not that simple, and after getting a master’s degree in Construction Engineering and Management, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that there is rarely a right answer for anything. This makes things difficult when making decisions because  棚架價錢 you can’t just knee-jerk to accepted convention – you actually have to think about the situation and make a unique individual decision. God forbid.

However, the accepted convention exists, and that is of course to get an MBA. I am personally not a huge fan of the MBA (don’t tell my brother or girlfriend, but it doesn’t really matter because they’re too busy throwing money around to read my blog anyway). I took a couple of real estate development courses in the business school at Colorado and got the feeling that while these people were very pretty and articulate, when it came to substantive knowledge about the construction industry, they were way off base. They were real-estate developers and they couldn’t tell you the difference between a soil classification, a shear-moment diagram, and a CPM schedule. However, I will admit that they had a much better handle on the finance and accounting of construction projects – although, its really not that hard to figure out.

I am in favor of more specialized degrees than the MBA and degrees that will emphasize ethics and sustainability rather than greed and accumulation of money. I know that MBA programs have more recently started to push harder on leadership, ethics, and sustainability, but after the accounting scandals, exorbitant CEO pay, and mass-layoffs of recent years, I really think this effort is too little and certainly far too late.