Agile and Eager Practitioners
An interview with Craig Lair, Construction Management student at the University of Cincinnati
Craig Lair is a third-year construction management student at the University of Cincinnati. Originally from Richmond, Indiana, Lair was drawn to UC because of its urban atmosphere and the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s outstanding programs. Lair has gained work experience in program management, estimating, project engineering and construction staffing during his internships and co-ops. He’s planning to go on the project manager track in vertical construction upon graduation. Outside of work and classes, he enjoys serving as the treasurer of the Construction Student Association, representing UC as a student ambassador, and playing tennis on the school’s club team.
What got you interested in construction? Had you worked in the industry before you started at UC?
I had been exposed to construction from a young age on the residential side. I had helped my parents with small renovations, and I always appreciated seeing a physical and permanent product for my efforts. Being able to get experience in the industry so early in my studies allowed me to confirm my passion for construction.
Construction executives frequently talk about a crisis in construction: there’s a shortage of young people who want to work in the industry. Do you believe this is the case? What do you think are the reasons behind it?
I agree with the executives, there definitely is a shortage of young people in the industry. However, I do believe the shortage of young people going into the construction management field is not as bad as the shortage of young people going into the trades. I think some of the reasons behind the shortage are at the middle school and high school level. For example, at the high school I graduated from, the industrial technology program was cut for budgetary reasons. I think this was a huge mistake because many students get inspired to consider a career in the trades from shop and industrial technology programs. Also, many educators have the tendency to push college as the only option for students. If the message given about going into the trades changed from the guidance counselors, more students may realize that it could be a meaningful and lucrative career without the student loans!
What is your area of concentration and how do you see yourself working in the field in this area in the future?
My major is construction management. I had started out as a civil engineering major, but I switched to CM after my first co-op. My reason for the switch is that I realized the business side of CM aligns with my interests, skills and passions more than civil engineering. Construction management students at UC do not have any official concentrations or specializations. However, we do have a pretty good idea of what we want to in the future. I have done all my co-ops in vertical commercial construction management. The sectors I have experience in include health care, higher education, restaurants and office buildings. I enjoy the complexities of these types of projects. I wish to continue to gain as many experiences and responsibilities as I can with the goal of pursuing a project manager track upon graduation.
How important is technology to your studies and to the future of AEC in general?
Technology is a huge part of a CM student’s experience. We have the unique situation of being trained on a wide range of programs in school and then using them in the real world on our co-ops. Many changes in AEC make implementing technology essential to the success of the project. For example, project delivery methods such as design-build are increasing in popularity and require advanced collaboration through technology. Also, technology can be implemented to increase the major metrics and values of a firm such as safety, quality and productivity. In my opinion, technology in AEC will continue to change and improve at a speedy rate and the industry will need agile and eager practitioners to implement the changes.
Have you used Bluebeam Revu?
Yes, I started using Bluebeam Revu during my first year at UC! I have had advanced in-person training with Bluebeam staff in Chicago with the Associated Schools of Construction. I have used Bluebeam in my classes to create site logistics plans and quantity takeoffs as well as an everyday PDF editor for general classes. I also have participated in several construction competitions where our team uses Bluebeam extensively to complete takeoffs and logistics plans as well as a tool to organize our documentation. On co-op, I used Bluebeam daily for reviewing submittals and shop drawings, writing RFIs, searching through drawings, making markups, etc. I think the some of the greatest benefits are the user-friendliness, hyperlinking abilities, e-signatures, takeoff interfaces, stapling and search features. If I only had one software on my computer, it would be Bluebeam!
Do you think mastering tech will give you a leg up in the future?
I absolutely think mastering tech in AEC will be beneficial for my future. Technology will be more and more a part of the construction process and I want to be on the leading edge of implementation.
Can you tell me about one or two of your favorite projects you’ve done at UC or on a co-op?
I’m glad you only want to talk about one or two, because I could have a lot to talk about in this area! One of my favorite school projects is one I am currently working on where we are taking the semester creating a complete BIM model for a large office building that includes architectural, structural, site, and MEPF disciplines all coordinated together. My favorite project on co-op on the estimating side was a basketball arena for a large university, and my favorite project where I was out on-site daily was a shell-space build out for a dialysis unit at a hospital in northern Kentucky.
Finally, are you currently looking for a job? How can prospective employers contact you?
I am not currently looking for a job, but I am always looking to expand my network with people who are passionate about the AEC industry. I am very active on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/craiglair/) and I can also be reached by my email (firstname.lastname@example.org).