“Interview with a Construction Professor” Series with David A. Wahlstrom at South Dakota State


sdsu.jpgI am pleased to announce the first interview in the “Interview with a Construction Professor” Series at C-School Blog. The interview will begin with a brief biography of a college construction professor, followed by six standard questions about the professor’s program, and the interview will finish up with recent program statistics.


Professor David Wahlstrom at South Dakota State was gracious enough to be the first faculty member to participate in this series. The following information was provided by Professor Wahlstrom on February 19, 2007:

David A. Wahlstrom JD MS F. ASCE – Professor at the Construction Management Program at South Dakota State University


Educational Background
BSCE S Dakota State Col June 1964, MS S Dakota State Univ. January 1971, & JD Indiana Univ. Dec 1983

Tenure Track, S Dakota State Univ. & Retiree, Univ. of Houston

Classes Taught
Legal Aspects, Materials, Surveying, & Building Information Modeling

I try to publish something annually. My primary interest is in the legal aspects of surveying


1. What qualities do you see in a top construction student?
Intelligence as a complement to a good work ethic; an ability to recognize what she doesn’t know; ‘thinking outside the box’; an ability to see the ‘big picture’.

2. What makes your program different from other construction programs?
Hopefully, our program is indistinguishable from the recognized programs. Our faculty seem to be career oriented rather than academically oriented (S Dak State Univ will still hire non-doctorates on a tenure track).

3. What do employers like the most about your students?
The most common compliment relates to the student’s superb work ethic.

4. What are students looking for in internships and entry-level jobs?
I am not sure! The typical intern candidate appears to be ‘field oriented’!

5. What is the most important thing that a high school student should know about your program?
There are good careers with established companies paying good salaries and offering good potential for growth. Also, the spectrum of employment opportunities is extremely varied, as are the possible employment venues..

6. How does the construction industry support your program?
The local companies make a number of scholarships available. The student groups have good support for their fund raising activities. Also, activities like the Job Fair bolster our meager coffers. (Please keep in mind that this is South Dakota where you are expected to get 60 cups per pound of coffee!)


Accreditations (ACCE, ABET, others?): ACCE

How many students graduated from your program in 2006? 28

How many employers recruited students from your program in 2006? 20

What was the average compensation package (starting salary + signing bonus) for students in 2006? $46,200 – only one graduate received a signing bonus (~$2,000)

Thanks go to Professor Wahlstrom and the entire Construction Management Department at South Dakota State University for providing information on the program. If you are a construction professor that would like to be interviewed for this series, please contact me at micnel@gmail.com to indicate interest.


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