Faculty Spotlight: Senior Lecturer Jonathan Tucker

Building Science Service Learning

Jonathan Tucker

This past year, Jonathan Tucker completed his first academic year as Senior Lecturer and Facility Manager of Auburn’s Robins & Morton Construction Field Lab in the McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI). Tucker taught three to four sections of the Construction Field Lab service learning course each semester and also kept things running at the field lab. “Coming from industry has truly prepared me for managing multiple projects at the same time, so I feel that my background has helped me to manage the field lab and service learning courses simultaneously,” he said.

While Tucker’s experience in industry prepared him for busy days at the field lab, he was surprised to find that his degree in architecture also came in handy. “Very few of the potential non-profit organizations have actual design documents when they initially present their project ideas to the program. My design background has been very beneficial in helping the non-profits with design-related issues and concerns,” he said. Another thing that helped the semesters to run smoothly was the field lab facility itself, which was renovated in 2020 thanks to a gift from Robbins & Morton and includes classroom space, Conex shipping container buildings and a high bay building. “The field lab allows us to store materials and tools, and it also allows us to be productive during bad weather days,” he explained. “We try to use the high bay to prefabricate as much as we possibly can possibly prior to moving to the jobsite.”

Tucker holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Louisiana Tech University and spent his career working in the construction industry, including stints as a project engineer and a construction superintendent as well as 13 years as a project manager. Before joining BSCI, he was a construction project manager for Auburn University Facilities, where he worked on projects for the College of Agriculture and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and helped with the foundation inspections at the new football performance center.

With a big transition into academia came big changes in the types of projects Tucker found himself working on. This year’s service learning projects included a 22’ x 28’ foot freestanding carport for Exodus Ranch in Opelika, the installation of Hardie lap siding on a Habitat for Humanity home in Auburn and two Alabama Rural Ministry projects in Lee County where students installed Galvalume metal roofs and rebuilt porches. At the request of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, the students also completed a 20’ x 30’ foot timber framed pavilion on a concrete slab used for food bank deliveries at King’s Mobile Estates in Opelika. “We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Jonathan and his students,” said Kelley Young, a volunteer with Holy Trinity. “You can tell Jonathan’s leadership makes such an impact on these young men and women, and they really look to him for guidance. We were so impressed by their dedication and professionalism.”

Tucker has found his work this past year to be highly rewarding, both for himself and the students. He appreciates how BSCI students can meet the specific needs presented to them while also gaining hands-on experience. Tucker says that when he was working in industry he might have reflected on the details of a building, but now he is able to focus on who the project has helped. “These projects are not about unique high-end finishes at all,” he explained. “There is nothing fancy or extravagant about the materials used on the service learning projects. They are about using a team of BSCI students to meet a need in the community.” Since the service learning course is a graduation requirement, many of Tucker’s students are about to head out into the real world, and he has words of wisdom for them as they depart campus. “My advice to them is to be grateful for the blessings of life, strive to be more selfless, live lives of purpose and be men and women of courage and integrity!”

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Jonathan Tucker