Spotlight: Assistant Professor Eric Wetzel

Eric Wetzel

Like a load-bearing beam in the buildings he works on, Eric Wetzel is known for being a source of support for his students. “A vast majority of students find themselves talking to Dr. Wetzel in the hallway or in his office as he fields a bevy of questions regarding the construction process,” stated current Building Construction senior Zac Devine. With an office directly across from the senior thesis lab, students in the McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI) often turn to Dr. Wetzel in times of trial. But beyond his capacity to counsel stressed-out seniors, Dr. Wetzel is a highly regarded teacher and one of the 2019 recipients of the Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award from the Auburn Alumni Association.

Wetzel holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate from Virginia Tech, but he earned his Masters of Building Construction here at Auburn. He’s only been teaching at Auburn for about four years but has already made a distinct impact on students, faculty and college administrators. College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) Dean Vini Nathan stated, “Through his engaging and highly interactive teaching style using analog and digital tools, he has made technical content thoroughly understandable, applicable, and enjoyable. His sophisticated amalgamation of subject matter, intense and exacting preparation, clear communication, enduring passion and dedication are both rare and remarkable.”

Wetzel is responsible for teaching BSCI 4610, Scheduling and Field Operations, to first-semester seniors. His love of teaching stems from watching the progress his students make throughout the course. “It is my favorite part,” Wetzel explained. “I like research, but I really like being in the classroom and seeing students, who may have never built a construction schedule in their entire professional lives, having to build three by the end of the semester. Being able to see where they started from, not having the skill or verbiage, to completing a cost-loaded schedule that they’re updating to produce pay apps and evaluate progress, it’s really rewarding to see that growth.”

Wetzel agrees that his proximity to the senior thesis lab means he sees a lot of students challenged by the roughly 400-page written capstone project. “It’s a lot of work and sometimes it can become overwhelming,” he said. “Much of the stuff we learned in our class becomes applicable to them, and they immediately need to be able to apply it in the thesis. It’s not an insignificant effort.” Eric Lynn, a 2018 graduate of BSCI, said, “Dr. Wetzel was always willing to help students outside of class, no matter if they were currently in his class or not. Having an office directly across from the senior thesis lab meant the students with the most questions – and stress – could conveniently slip into his office throughout the day. As you could imagine, his ‘open door policy’ was often put to the test.”

While many students qualify him as a good listener, Dr. Wetzel’s faculty award is for excellence in teaching, an area in which he shines. Sarah Hoffman, a 2017 graduate of BSCI, stated, “Dr. Wetzel implemented unique and relevant assignments to make understanding concepts much easier, and he always did it with a positive and infectious spirit. He went beyond what was required in the curriculum and dedicated classes to informing students for the transition from college to the workforce.”

Whether it’s teaching, research or just greeting students in the hallways, Eric Wetzel shares his knowledge, skills and experience with everyone he meets at the CADC. Richard Burt, head of BSCI, says that Wetzel is a vital part of the Building Construction program. “Eric is an outstanding teacher, a strong advocate for student learning and assessment and a willing participant in the university community. His accomplishments have been an example to others.”

Eric Wetzel

Eric Wetzel
Assistant Professor

Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning, Virginia Tech
Masters of Building Construction (MBC), Auburn University
B.S. in Construction Management, Western Kentucky University

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Eric Wetzel