Faculty Spotlight: Associate Professor Jeff Kim
Ironically, it was while working in industry that Auburn alum Jeff Kim realized he liked teaching. “I was supporting a business shift that involved a significant software change along with adopting technology to digitally connect the main office to job sites,” he recalled. “This shift also involved a significant amount of training, and I traveled to every job site and met with every employee to prepare them for the changes that were being made.” After 21 years with Holder Construction, Kim decided to make the leap into academia, joining the faculty of the McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI) in 2016.
Kim actually started out as an engineering student at Auburn because of his interest in how things were put together. He eventually switched his major to Building Science because the process of building structures seemed more relatable. “Buildings are all around us, and they’re where we live, work and are entertained,” he explained. “I wanted to be a part of the reason why those buildings were so useful to people.” Kim earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn and a Master of Science in Building Construction and Facility Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He went to work for Holder and held several different positions, focusing heavily on new and emerging technologies that increase construction process efficiency. He says he was grateful that Holder recognizes that its employees’ interests and skills change over time, and that allowed him to transition into different roles in the company and eventually into teaching. He also feels that the volunteer work supported by the company helped prepare him to work in education. “I was heavily involved in volunteer efforts that supported workforce development in the construction industry,” he said. “Organizations such as ACE Mentor, SkillsUSA, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and Construction Ready in Georgia all prepared me to work with students that show interest in the built environment.”
Kim currently teaches Construction Documents, Construction Information Technology I and II, Preconstruction and Project Management and Contracting Business, but his favorite course to teach is the senior thesis class. He is also busy researching ways to improve construction work, including automation, costs and productivity. His current area of focus is the use of augmented reality (AR) and its potential to improve construction skills training and construction site inspections. In addition to teaching and research, he coaches BSCI competition teams and this past year led a team in Associated Schools of Construction Region 6/7 competition in Reno, Nevada.
While his days are busy, Kim says he’s happy to be back at his alma mater passing on the industry knowledge he learned on the job. “I had a fondness for my undergraduate experience in Building Science while at Auburn,” he said. “I enjoy being at that edge of the students’ lives when they transition from school-instructed learners to experience-learners. I see the lives they have ahead of themselves in this industry and it makes me happy to witness the beginnings of ‘great builders.’”