Faculty Spotlight: Associate Professor Eric Wetzel

Eric Wetzel teaching BSCI 4610 class

Eric Wetzel, who teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs in the McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI), has busy days full of teaching, outreach and research. Wetzel holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University, a Master of Building Construction (MBC) from Auburn and a Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning from Virginia Tech. He was recently promoted to Associate Professor.

Wetzel regularly teaches Estimating for MBC students and Advanced Research Methods II for the BSCI’s doctoral students. This fall, he will teach Information and Communication Technology for Construction II for the first time in many years, and he plans on adding modules on artificial intelligence, Python programming and robotics. However, the class that most of his former students will associate Wetzel with is Scheduling and Field Operations. “That’s probably my favorite class,” he said. “I have taught at least one section every semester I have been at Auburn. In addition to construction robotics, construction scheduling is an expertise and passion of mine.” Wetzel has been a project controls consultant for over 15 years, including his current work as principal of Wetzel Consulting, LLC. In addition to teaching, he coaches a competition team each year, preparing students to compete in the Heavy Civil division of Associated Schools of Construction’s Region 2 competition.

Mac the Robot Dog

Wetzel is also the primary handler for “Mac,” BSCI’s four-legged robotic dog designed for data collection, exploration and construction site documentation. Mac is in high demand for demonstrations, which has taken Wetzel on quite a few outings. “I have stayed very busy the last two years with Mac,” he said. “I have given keynotes at industry conferences, done a dozen or so elementary and high school visits, participated in robot camps and visited many STEM events.” Wetzel has also taken Mac to work with Junior ROTC and Maxwell Air Force Base and has visited several Alabama chapters of Associated General Contractors and Associated Builders and Contractors.

Wetzel is currently advising two graduate students who are working on construction robotics research and was co-PI this past year in a study of which academic experiences resonate most with construction management students. He also has ongoing research partnerships with Hexagon PPM and Auburn’s RFID Lab. “Ultimately, the research is looking at ways to task robots to do much of the inventory and data capture necessary on a job site, alleviating the field engineer’s time for other tasks,” he stated.

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Eric Wetzel