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The next big high-tech career: construction management

Stock photo depicting an architect on a construction site

Seeking a tech career in a rapidly emerging area that isn’t on most people’s radar? Take a close look at construction management, advises Capitol Technology University’s Gary Burke.

Burke, an industry expert and educator, is spearheading Capitol’s new bachelor's degree in construction management and critical infrastructure, as well as related programs at the master’s and doctoral levels.

Construction has gone high-tech, injecting fresh momentum into a sector that, in the past, was slow to change. From 3D printers to GPS tracking, laser scanning, and building information modeling, innovative technologies are revolutionizing the industry.

 “Companies are doing things now with cellular equipment that would have taken days to do in the field manually,” says Burke, who serves as the university’s vice president of facilities management and professional education in addition to directing the construction management and critical infrastructure program. “Today, a crane operator has a mobile phone. The superintendent is texting pictures to the architect. You’ve got drones taking job site photos. You’ve got personnel on the site wearing smart hard hats.”

Gary Burke
Gary Burke

New tech means new security challenges, particularly as construction becomes intertwined with IP-enabled devices, cloud storage, and the Internet of Things. In the past, a construction manager wouldn’t have spent much time worrying about hackers getting into the project computer and stealing CAD drawings – but today such risks are very real, and many old-school managers lack the right training to deal with digital adversaries.

The industry publication Construction Executive warned recently that “proactive measures,” including threat modeling and regular testing and monitoring, must be implemented in order to prevent leaks or theft of critical company or customer data.

Bottom line: if you’re computer-savvy and comfortable with high-tech, the industry needs you. And there’s another advantage, according to Burke – your job is unlikely to be taken over by a robot.

Burke, who worked as a construction manager and later operated his own contracting firm before transitioning into higher education, says he was thinking ahead when he chose the field. Realizing that automation and artificial intelligence will render many jobs redundant, he sought out a career in which demand for human employees will always be high.

 “I asked myself ‘what industries are the least likely to be replaced by automation?’ And I realized construction management was one of them.”

Indeed, a recent report by the construction firm Balfour and Beatty predicts that, while robots and drones may carry out much future construction work, human overseers will be needed to “remotely manage multiple projects simultaneously, accessing 3D and 4D visuals and data from the on-site machines, [and] ensuring the build is proceeding to specification.”

Capitol is an ideal school for earning degrees in construction management and critical infrastructure because of its track record in technology education, Burke says. The school was one of the first in the nation to offer degree programs in cybersecurity, and has earned repeat designations from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency as a Center for Academic Excellence (Cyber-Defense).

The construction management and critical infrastructure program incorporates cybersecurity into the curriculum, giving graduates additional, coveted skills to add to their resumes. Furthermore, Capitol also offers degree programs in fields like mechatronics and unmanned systems that dovetail with the innovative world of construction today.

“A student could potentially double major,” Burke notes.

Build your career in the quickly evolving field of construction management and critical infrastructure. For information on Capitol’s programs, e-mail admissions@CapTechU. edu or phone 301-369-2800.