Faculty Spotlight: Assistant Professor Amna Salman
Amna Salman’s passions are teaching and research, and as an Assistant Professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science, she is happy to be doing both. “I have never considered them work,” Salman explained. “I want to help young students deepen their love for learning and take that forward with them as a lifelong passion and desire.”
Professor Salman earned an undergraduate degree in architecture in Pakistan in 2007 followed by a dual Masters in Community Planning and Public Administration from Auburn in 2013. After working at Auburn as a campus planner, she felt compelled to share her knowledge of the field and began teaching at Auburn’s undergraduate building science program as an adjunct professor in 2017. In the fall of 2020, she was one of the first students to enter Auburn’s doctorate in building construction program, one of only seven in the nation.
Currently, Professor Salman teaches Structures I and II to building science and architecture students. She uses experimental approaches in her classes to help students develop a deeper understanding of concepts as well as enthusiasm. “My students create earthquake resistant structures and then test them on a tremor table in class,” she said. “I have been using this experiment for years and students give me great feedback on how it helped them learn better about earthquake resistant structures.” In Structures II, she has her students meet at the Robins & Morton Construction Field Lab to study various concrete tests. Students mix the concrete themselves and perform the slump test, air-entrainment test and concrete strength test once it is hardened.
Professor Salman’s research interests focus on building operations and construction education. In her dissertation research, she is studying how to improve the health and safety of a building’s occupants as well as decision support for facility managers. “My research goal is to develop a building preparedness and readiness index system for an outbreak or pandemic,” she explained. “My proposed index system will be an easy-to-use rating tool that would identify each critical element in the building that has an impact on the spread of airborne viruses and rate its effectiveness in the building. The end result would be a cumulative index score for the building that would determine its level of safety against an outbreak or pandemic.” Outside of her doctoral studies, she is also researching the use of visualization technologies in education. She has noticed that her Structures II students often have a hard time in understanding complex steel connections and concrete detailing. She decided to use VR and AR technologies to create learning aids and is currently working on the visualization of concrete detailing.
With her ambitious research agenda, Professor Salman is grateful for the support of programs like the College of Architecture, Design and Construction’s Seed Grants and the McWhorter Fund for Excellence grants. A recipient of a Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship from Auburn, she feels that research in the construction industry is of the utmost importance. “There is nothing cooler than knowing that you are contributing to the discovery or development of something that can make a difference in people’s lives or a change in the world,” she exclaimed. “Every contribution matters!”