Program History

Building on the Past, Looking for the Future

Photo of students at graduation

From the first classes in "machine, architectural, and original design" in 1903 to today’s rigorous curriculum, Cal Poly remains committed to its founding learn-by-doing philosophy through its Construction Education Department. The department draws its faculty from both professional educators and practicing professionals and consists of ten full-time faculty and a selection of part-time professionals drawn from the industry to enhance the program. Together, they are dedicated to educating the next generation of men and women to construct and manage, the physical environment.

Integral to the development and success of the Construction Management program has been an ongoing commitment to multidisciplinary teaching. The Construction Management Department works closely with the other four departments that comprise the College of Architecture and Environmental Design: City and Regional Planning, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Architectural Engineering. As a result, graduates are well prepared for the actual complexities of professional practice and construction in the field.

Today, with nearly 400 students enrolled, the department is one of the largest programs of its kind on the West Coast. Admission to the program is highly competitive, with only one in four qualified applicants selected. The undergraduate program sends out high-quality, thoughtful, applications-oriented graduates not only into California communities but also into the national and international arenas.

The future will see more efficient, alternative project deliveries in a rapidly changing global environment. There is no stronger foundation for our students to handle such a task than by remaining true to the Cal Poly approach to education: application-oriented and multidisciplinary cooperation.

The Construction Unit developed as follows:

The Construction Management Department resides in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). The College grew out of a program of Architectural Engineering which, from 1946 to 1964, was a program within the Division, or School, of Engineering (see historical chronology of the College in B). In 1964 the addition of a five-year program in Architecture was approved. During the middle 1960's the programs experienced extremely rapid growth and, in 1968, the School of Architecture was created with George Hasslein, formerly the Architecture Program Head, selected to serve as Dean. The program of City and Regional Planning was added in 1970, the same year that the name of the School was changed to the School of Architecture and Environmental Design. Construction Engineering was added to the School in 1970 and Landscape Architecture in 1972. All programs were reorganized into Departments in 1978 and, in July 1993, the University renamed the "School" to the "College" of Architecture and Environmental Design with Paul R. Neel serving as Dean.

In 1961 Mr. Paul Spencer, a member of the Board of Trustees for the California State Colleges and a general contractor in Southern California, asked the President of the College (University) to review the possibility of establishing a Construction Engineering Program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Other institutions within the system were also given consideration and nearly ten years of deliberation, research, and evaluation followed. During this time the School of Architecture and Environmental Design was created. In 1970 approvals were given to begin a program in Construction Engineering. Since all programs within the School had a common first and second year curriculum base, the Construction Engineering Program began classes in Fall 1970 with a third year class, producing its first graduating class in June 1972.

In 1978 the "Construction Engineering" program's name was changed to “Construction”. This name change reflected the program's emphasis on management rather than engineering. The name “Construction Management” was adopted in 1984.

The Construction Engineering program received its first accreditation in 1978 with subsequent reaccreditation as Construction or Construction Management in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2008, and 2014.

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