As a Civil and Environmental Engineering professor and adjunct in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Carlos Sun’s research focus at MU centers on transportation and construction management. However, this past summer he joined an entirely new team for a month-long faculty internship program.
Sun, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California-Irvine and a J.D. from the University of Missouri, is highly acclaimed in his area of study. The one-time Researcher of the Year Award winner has received funding from a number of organizations, including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, Federal Highway Administration and more.
“The Associate General Contractors of America (AGC) have a program as part of their education and research foundation that supports faculty interning at large construction companies,” Sun said. “And at Mizzou, we just developed a minor in construction management. The minor is part of our Civil Engineering program, and so we thought that this was the perfect opportunity for me to apply to the agency.”
Sun’s goal in signing on with Emery Sapp & Sons, a Columbia-based contracting firm, was to not only build MU’s new minor curriculum, but foster relationships within the industry as well.
“Emery Sapp & Sons, at least the division I was with, was involved in heavy construction, meaning highways, bridges, major civil engineer projects,” he continued. “I was able to basically immerse myself in the operations for four weeks.”
A large part of his work involved exploring new technologies used in construction, such as drones. According to his AGC report, over the course of the internship, Sun’s interaction with the staff included one-on-one time with the ESS faculty, on-site job shadowing and participation in group meetings. Both the workload and connections were instrumental in piecing the new construction management minor together.
“I will work with Emery Sapp & Sons in getting some data to develop projects and course material for students,” Sun said, noting his hope to introduce students to the many career avenues in construction.
“We also hope to maintain relationships with [ESS] and build relationships with other construction companies that will help our students,” he continued. “We could get speakers for our various student organizations, and we can help our students network with potential employers and secure relationships.”
The minor, which is open to all majors, is a partnership between both civil engineering and architectural studies. In his report, Sun outlined the importance his internship will have on growing the program.
“Because the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is unable to hire additional faculty that specialize in construction management, we had to rely on existing faculty to make the minor possible,” he explained in his report. “Therefore, this internship allows the training of multiple faculty members as I intend to pass along the knowledge acquired through this internship to others.”