BSCI Faculty Spotlight: Senior Lecturer Hunter McGonagill
In 2019, Senior Lecturer Hunter McGonagill left his position at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to begin teaching full time in Auburn’s McWhorter School of Building Science.
“I left USACE specifically to take on the challenge of sharing my diverse experience with the next generation of builders,” he explained.
McGonagill began his career in construction and civil engineering design in 2010 when he joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working at both Fort Hood in Texas and Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. In 2014, he became a Regional Engineer with the USACE’s Foreign Military Sales Program where he managed the completion of various horizontal and vertical infrastructure projects across allied nations in the Middle East. While there, he began BSCI’s Executive Graduate Certificates program remotely and earned his Master of Building Construction degree in 2017. In addition to his graduate degree, McGonagill holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Mississippi.
After traveling extensively and completing projects on several different continents, McGonagill felt that something was missing. “I was blessed to have the opportunity to complete some amazing and complex projects,” he explained. “But after several years, it started to sink in that I would finish one and simply start another.” Upon joining BSCI’s faculty, McGonagill assisted with multiple courses and helped with thesis reviews. He currently teaches Construction Field Lab, the school’s service learning course, and has also taught Construction Safety, Lean Construction, Structures I and Documents. He says that the cohort structure of the building science program makes for a strong sense of community. “When I get to teach the same students over multiple semesters, I feel like we get to chat more about life and not just textbooks and technical prowess,” he explained.
His extensive travel across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South and Central America means that he usually sees there is more than one answer to any given problem. “There is typically more than one solution, so why be stubborn about doing it ‘my way?’” he said. Senior ‘Ab’ Kenneth Abernathy says that McGonagill pushes his students to focus on more than their careers and to help others in the world around them. “You can tell he is a professor who really cares,” Abernathy said. “He is one of those people that are full of experience and wisdom and are eager and willing to share it.”
Having grown up with family in the construction industry, McGonagill has a highly valued network of contacts that span the industry and the globe, and he feels that the people he’s met along the way are what made his career special. “I have learned to appreciate that construction is a ‘people’ business,” he said. “Our students have to understand that every project they complete will be done with a team.”