Archive | Jul, 2008

Purdue to Launch Building Restoration and Reconstruction Specialization

Jul 27th, 2008No Comments

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A new undergraduate specialization at Purdue University will help teach students how to manage situations that involve the restoration and reconstruction of buildings after disasters.

The specialization in the Department of Building Construction Management will be offered beginning in the 2009 spring semester. It will be led by Randy R. Rapp, an engineer with more than 30 years of construction experience, which included leading rebuilding efforts in Iraq and after hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

Robert F. Cox, professor and head of the Department of Building Construction Management, said the disaster restoration and reconstruction specialization has been in the planning stages for more than a decade and was created in response to the need for filling future management positions in this area.

“In the past several years, we’ve seen many disasters in this country, such as Hurricane Katrina, that require individuals with a strong knowledge in the construction industry, the science and technology of disaster response and restoration, as well as the management of people, finances, and processes common to post-disaster situations,” Cox said. “Graduates of this specialization will have a broad knowledge in all of these areas and will be qualified to work as contractors, company owners, in insurance or in regulatory career positions.”

Cox said college-level courses in this area have never been offered at Purdue, and he believes the specialization will be the first undergraduate program of its kind in the country.

He said the courses will focus on teaching students how to become reactive managers of a construction project, which is opposite of the proactive management style considered in typical building projects. Courses in the program will cover such topics as building environmental issues, building safety, demolition and removal of damaged and destroyed buildings, and methods of building repair and renovation.

“Our hope in offering such a unique program is that we will be able to pursue collaborations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security, grant opportunities, and develop an expert group of first responders on logistics and building forensics that industry officials and others in academia can use as a resource,” Cox said.

Cox said he credits the strong support of industry partners with the creation of the specialty. Ten companies or individuals will each donate $150,000 to the specialization over a 10-year period: Advantage Marketing Inc., Claude Blackburn, Disaster Kleenup International Inc., Dri-Eaz Products Inc., Evans Garnent, Independent Mitigation and Cleaning/Conservation, Servicemaster Clean, Boumatic/Therma-Stor, Unsmoke and Bridgepoint Systems.

Bob Bonwell, president of Advantage Marketing Inc., an Indianapolis-based distributor and supply service for the restoration industry, helped lead the industry’s effort in establishing this specialization at Purdue.

“The need for qualified managers and employees in the restoration industry is unbelievable, and partnering with Purdue is a first step in addressing the great demand,” he said. “Our hope is that aligning ourselves with a university will help bring more attention to the industry, which is often forgotten. But our people are usually the first people called after disasters, some as small as an overflowed bathtub or as big as a hurricane.

“The restoration industry can benefit from not only graduates of the program but also by having those in academia study our industry and perhaps come up with better solutions to problems and issues we face every day.”

Cox said a major strength of the program is the expertise of its faculty, especially the specialty’s leader.

Since 2005, Rapp has worked extensively in disaster restoration and reconstruction in response to hurricanes Katrina and Wilma and was a deputy program general manager in Iraq and Kuwait who helped direct $730 million in infrastructure support to Basra, Iraq, to restore oil production capability.

He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri – Rolla, and a doctorate in management from Webster University in St. Louis.

“Since this is a new specialization, there is no textbook and no model of how to structure the courses,” Rapp said. “We will be working hard during the coming months drawing upon the knowledge and resources of those in the industry to develop three courses that will meet the needs of both students and companies.”

Rapp said the goal is to have about 25 students in the specialization, which some students will be able to begin by working with him on independent studies work in the 2008-09 academic year. The first graduates of the program are expected in 2010.

Those interested in Purdue’s disaster restoration and reconstruction specialization program can contact Rapp at (765) 494-8420 rrapp@purdue.edu.

Purdue’s Department of Building Construction Management, established in 1966, offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees and is accredited by the American Council for Construction Education. In addition to disaster restoration and reconstruction, the department offers undergraduate specializations in residential construction management, electrical construction management, mechanical construction management, demolition construction management and health care construction management.

Source: Purdue University

The information was reprinted with permission from Inside Indiana Business. Article also available here.

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