Auburn Launches Doctoral Program in Building Construction

BSCI students meeting

Last fall, the McWhorter School of Building Science welcomed students to the first Ph.D. program in building construction in the state of Alabama.

The start of the doctoral program, which is one of only seven such programs in the country, aligns the terminal degree of the building science program with comparable graduate programs in building construction and construction management across the nation.

The doctorate in building construction is a research-based degree focused on generating new knowledge through innovative exploration of theory, development of creative perspectives and applications of new technologies to address the challenges of creating and maintaining a sustainable built environment. It emphasizes original, interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary scholarship in key and emerging areas of building construction. The degree is suited for students and professionals interested in advancing their knowledge and skills in the areas of high-performance buildings, n-D modeling and simulation of building construction processes, sustainable construction, integrated project delivery, facilities maintenance and management and innovative construction education.

The program differs from tradition doctoral programs in civil engineering because of the McWhorter School’s close association with allied disciplines in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, where it is housed. This association has contributed to a focus on the high-tech visualization and modeling of construction processes and products that makes the McWhorter
program unique among other academic offerings in the construction field. The average time to complete the doctoral degree is three years, and the program requires 62 semester hours of graduate course work beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Two students, Amna Salman and Kevin Hitchcock, began their doctoral studies last fall.

Amna Salman

Amna earned an undergraduate degree in architecture in Pakistan in 2007 followed by a dual Masters in Community Planning (MCP) and Public Administration (MPA) from Auburn in 2013. After working at Auburn as a campus planner, Amna felt compelled to build upon and share her knowledge of the field and began teaching building structure courses at Auburn’s undergraduate building science program as an adjunct professor in 2017.

Kevin Hitchcock, PhD student, fall 2020
Kevin Hitchcock

Hitchcock holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and a Master of Engineering in construction engineering management, both from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has been a construction educator for fifteen years at Lawson State Community College in Bessemer, Alabama.

Both Amna and Hitchcock are recipients of Presidential Graduate Research Fellowships from Auburn University.

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Amna Salman