Construction Engineering was founded in 1963 at Iowa State University. At the time, the university had an architectural engineering program, which trained students in both design and engineering of structures. Bill Klinger, owner of Klinger Construction at the time, approached the university with a rough outline of a curriculum which would provide graduates with skills valuable to employers in the construction industry. Several years earlier, Klinger had proposed a similar program, but was turned down by the university due to lack of funding. However, this time he was able to make a sizable donation to the university, which helped fund the program, and work was begun.

Today, Iowa State University's construction engineering program is the oldest, largest, and by many accounts the best of its kind in the nation. As of 2001, 1,666 students have received a bachelors degree from this program, with average yearly enrollment today of 50 to 60 students per graduating class.

The curriculum blends aspects of architecture, civil engineering, business, and management programs to produce students who are able to perform a wide variety of responsibilities in the construction industry. Our graduates work in capacities including owners representatives, state department of transportation engineers, estimators, project managers, and presidents of construction companies.


There are three emphases to the Iowa State Construction Engineering program. These are Building, Heavy/Highway, and Mechanical/Electrical.

The building emphasis is the largest of the three, with something along the lines of 80% of the students in the program. They focus on the construction of buildings, a field in which most general contractors will perform at maximum 25% of the work involved in building a structure. Due to this, much of their work involves coordinating subcontractors to build the project. Since this is the largest group of students in the program, many of the classes are oriented towards this.

The next largest of the emphases is the heavy/highway emphasis. This focuses more on the construction of projects such as roads, bridges, dams, and other large structures. Contractors which perform this kind of work often self-perform a significant majority of the work required on a project, so there is more of a focus of utilizing resources such as manpower and equipment as efficiently as possible. Their curriculum also includes classes more geared towards heavy construction, such as environmental engineering and asphalt mix design.

The smallest of the three emphases is mechanical/electrical. Most graduates from this curriculum work for mechanical or electrical subcontractors. They tend to do a good amount of design for their systems on projects, and therefore take a good number of classes in the mechanical engineering and electrical engineering departments.

Information gathered from Iowa State University web pages, The Erector Set 2001, and personal experience

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