Building Science faculty receive advanced degrees

Building Science faculty receive advanced degrees

Three faculty members from the McWhorter School of Building Science recently received their doctoral degrees, one from Virginia Tech, and two from Auburn University.

Eric Wetzel, who began teaching in Auburn in spring 2016, received his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech (VT). His dissertation was on the Use of a BIM-based Framework to Support Safe Facility Management Processes.

“Doing a Ph.D. was extremely challenging,” Wetzel said, “but simultaneously one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I am so grateful for the experiences, the people, and the opportunities that being enrolled in a doctoral program afforded me. Most importantly, it has allowed me to work as a professor at one of my favorite places on earth, Auburn.”

“In terms of balancing full time work at Auburn and the Ph.D., my experience is likely different from most,” he adds. Enrolled as a full-time student at VT allowed Wetzel to complete all of his course work requirements, the preliminary and qualifying exams, and a significant portion of his dissertation before he came to Auburn. “Once I arrived at Auburn it was very important to remain vigilant in completing my dissertation and staying in contact with my Committee at VT. My graduation in December 2016 will be my sixth trip since leaving Blacksburg ten months ago. I love VT, but I certainly won’t miss the 8-hour drive from Auburn to Blacksburg.” Wetzel teaches Project Controls III and Project Controls III CIT lab.

Paul Holley, director of the Center for Construction Innovation and Collaboration, earned a Ph.D. from Auburn University in education for his work on the Learning Styles and Preferences of Field Managers in U.S. Non-residential Construction.

“I had a very rewarding experience over the past 3 1/2 years in pursuing the degree,” says Holley. “As an educator myself, it was interesting to be back in the classroom. I learned quite a bit about educational processes and research. Balancing the coursework, the dissertation, work, and family was challenging, but well worth the effort. Ben Farrow and I matriculated through the curriculum on a similar schedule, and it was a good motivator to have someone with whom to ‘pace.’”

Ben Farrow, Associate Dean, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, received his doctoral degree from Auburn University’s School of Education. His dissertation in Adult Education focused on Problem Solving Styles in the Southeast Construction Industry, exploring the styles with which professionals in the industry prefer to solve problems. “The idea was that the more we know about how professionals solve problems, the better we could prepare undergraduates in Construction for problem solving in professional practice,” Farrow said.

“The School of Education has a program that offers evening classes to allow employees to pursue graduate degrees while working,” says Farrow. “It took me about 3 1/2 years. I would take one or two classes a semester, including summer, that met from 5 p.m. Auburn also allowed me to transfer some hours from my Master’s work thereby saving me some time and classroom requirements. It would not have happened without Richard Burt’s support as a School leader. My spouse, Julia, was especially supportive, and I am grateful for the sacrifices my family made during the experience.”

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