SDSU Establishes Construction Management Major

January 19, 2022
SDSU Establishes Construction Management Major

One of the few universities in the nation to offer Construction Engineering and Construction Management in the College of Engineering.

The J.R. Filanc Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) Program at San Diego State University has added a Construction Management major to the program.

The new major makes SDSU one of only a few universities in the nation to have both Construction Engineering and Construction Management majors. This initiative was spearheaded by the generous support and leadership of Filanc Construction Co. With several members of the Filanc family being alumni of the CSU system, and the company benefitting from hiring high-quality SDSU Engineering graduates in the past, it was a priority to invest back into SDSU.

The Filanc family worked with SDSU in the mid-2000s to provide philanthropic support to establish the program. Since then, the program has graduated almost 400 construction engineers, with many whom staying in the greater San Diego area to work. 

It has long been SDSU’s goal to expand the program with the Construction Management major. “Establishing the Construction Management major is something that has been an industry priority for several years. Getting the curriculum developed and the major reviewed and approved in multiple levels at SDSU and, ultimately, by the CSU is a complex process. We’re thrilled to have it established,” said Dr. Thais Alves, AGC - Paul S. Roel Chair in Construction Engineering and Management and Director of the J.R. Filanc CEM program.

The Construction Management program’s inaugural classes were held in Fall 2021. Aside from advancing the local workforce for construction, many of the students in the J.R. Filanc CEM Program are first-generation college students. A high number of students are also underrepresented minorities. Tenured faculty are research active, bringing the latest trends to the classroom and also advancing the construction industry.

With a heavy emphasis on industry connections, Alves says that CEM students are taught practical skills that make the major attractive to students. The graduates of the program are attractive to industry as they can step in and start contributing. “We have had a huge influx of students transferring majors just by word of mouth - they want to learn these skills of building and managing projects.”

Under the direction of Dr. Janusz Supernak, Chair of the Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Department at SDSU, industry leaders, the Filanc family and SDSU leadership started formulating a construction engineering and management program in the early 2000s. “We worked closely with the Filanc family, several construction company leaders and Associated General Contractors (AGC) to design the program,” said Supernak. In the 2000s, the Filanc family made a significant gift to create an endowment to support the program. The program continues to expand every year and the endowment provides support in perpetuity.

The J.R. Filanc CEM success stories are endless: Dusan Selezan ‘18, a Civil Engineering bachelor’s graduate and a Civil Engineering master’s graduate with an emphasis in Construction, discovered the program after taking a course with Dr. Thais Alves: “We were able to work with construction companies on measuring productivity and checking safety as well as overall construction sites. That’s when I really got into the CEM field, rather than pursuing a design career as a civil engineer.” Now serving as VDC Manager at Balfour Beatty, Selezan now comes back to campus to guest lecture, mentor students, and organize events to support the Program. He also works closely with the AGC of San Diego.

Along with adding the new major, a campaign to establish an endowed chair is in process. The AGC Chair in Construction Management is being established to attract and retain high-level CEM faculty. To date, industry has provided gifts totalling almost $2M toward the $2.5M goal for the endowed chair campaign. Jim Ryan, longtime AGC San Diego Executive who is now semi-retired, has been leading the efforts to secure funding for the chair.

Mark Filanc, who currently serves as an advisory board member for the College of Engineering and is a lecturer for CIVE 495 - Capstone Design shares, “The AGC Chair incentive is to be able to hire the best and brightest faculty at San Diego State.”

The AGC Chair is currently supported by: AGC San Diego, TC Construction Company, Inc., Bergelectric Construction, Harper Construction Company, Inc., McCarthy Building Companies, Marathon Construction Corporation, Swinerton, Hazard Construction Company, Casper Company, EC Constructors, Inc., Balfour Beatty, and Cass Arrieta.

This last week, the CEM Program Advisory Board held their inaugural meeting, consisting of discussing their mission, direction of program, accreditation, and other future initiatives. The AGC Board looks forward to future advancements in Spring 2022 and beyond.

To learn more about the J.R. Filanc Construction Engineering and Management Program, click here. If you or someone you know would like more information about supporting the AGC Chair in Construction Management, please reach out to Senior Development Director, Kate Carinder.