Amidst bull riding and other festivities at the Poly Royal Rodeo, Cal Poly announced the new heavy civil construction minor, courtesy of a $5 million combined gift from Granite Construction, Caterpillar and the Beavers Charitable Trust.

Civil Engineering Department Chair Charles Chadwell said $3 million from Granite and $1 million from Beavers Charitable Trust will go towards faculty and resources for the minor. The remaining $1 million from Caterpillar will go towards scholarships for women in construction and underrepresented minorities in heavy civil engineering.

The minor will begin in fall 2019 for incoming sophomores to apply. Through these applications, 12 students from construction management and 12 students from civil engineering will be selected to form the first 24 student cohort.

Heavy civil construction is a category of engineering that specializes in large public structures such as bridges, dams, railways and highways and utility distribution.

“There’s great opportunities for them in the heavy civil construction sector … not many of our students even think about that as an opportunity right now,” Construction Management Department Chair Allan Hauck said. “This is going to provide a great career opportunity for them.”

College of Architecture Dean Christine Theodoropoulos, CEO of Granite Construction Jim Roberts and College of Engineering Dean Amy Fleischer at the Poly Royal Rodeo as Caterpillar and Beavers Charitable Trust were honored for a combined $5 million gift to fund a new civil engineering-construction management minor. Cal Poly Engineering | Courtesy

President and CEO of Granite Construction James Roberts, who helped transform Spanos Stadium into the rodeo arena, helped sponsor the new minor. The Granite Construction company is a large-scale company in infrastructure solutions regarding transportation, water resources and mineral exploration. Caterpillar, a leading manufacturer in construction equipment who helped with the transformation, and Beavers’ Charitable Trust, a non-profit supporting goodwill and leadership in the heavy engineering construction industry, also helped sponsor the new minor.

The minor will be formally called the granite heavy civil engineering and construction minor.

“I’ve always believed that we could have a better relationship between the civil engineering and the construction management,” Chadwell said.  “I’ve been pushing for a construction engineering collaboration for a very long time.”

Chadwell said need for the new minor stems from the job market. Starting with 12 students from each major, it will offer the opportunity for construction management students to take more civil engineering classes, and civil engineering students to take more construction management. It will offer two unique classes that are only accessible to seniors in the minor and a third senior capstone design experience class also exclusive to all 24 students. Students will also complete two internships with Granite during their time in the minor. Details about the internship portion are still being finalized.

“We want to make it very competitive so when they have that on their degree, the companies in this business will know that they are a very small selected group among very selected people that can even get into Cal Poly,” Chadwell said. “It really does identify the best of the best among our students.”

Heavy civil construction is a category of engineering that specializes in large public structures such as bridges, dams, railways and highways and utility distribution. Austin Linthicum | Mustang News

Hauck said this kind of program is quite uncommon and Cal Poly is making great moves forward.

“This is the first time that I know of that we’ve got the funding to do an endowed professorship who will have a joint appointment in both departments across the colleges, so I think thats what makes it unique,” Hauck said.

Civil engineering senior Nick Fantozzi said he appreciates the new opportunity and he thinks it will help students gain a more diverse education to set themselves apart from others.

“It’s a great program because it allows Cal Poly civil engineers to be more effective entering the workplace with a strong grasp on the construction management computer programs,” Fantozzi said.

Construction management junior Avery Spector said she has high hopes for the future of Cal Poly’s students following this addition.

“I‘m excited and a bit envious of the students who are going to benefit from the grant and new minor,” Spector said.

She said that getting students interested and educated about heavily civil construction early in their studies is a powerful tactic.

“I think that with this new minor, our school can build leaders within the industry and that’s really awesome,” Spector said.

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