What Is Construction Engineering Management?

Engineer working with laptop computer
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Construction engineering management, or CEM, involves the application of technical and scientific knowledge to infrastructure construction projects. While engineering focuses on design and construction management is concerned with overseeing the actual construction, CEM often represents a blend of both disciplines, bridging design and management or project execution. Construction engineering managers may have an educational background at both undergraduate and graduate levels as well as experience in construction management techniques.

Their skills may be applied widely to the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. 

What Does a Construction Engineering Manager Do?

Construction engineering managers are key players in the successful completion of construction projects. Over the course of his or her career, a construction engineering manager is likely to work on and oversee a broad range of projects. This may include the design of drainage and sewage systems, building construction, or even larger infrastructure projects like developing highways or railroads. Others choose to focus on one particular type of construction and build a career around it. Some common specialties include:

  • Commercial business or housing construction
  • Electrical system design
  • HVAC/mechanical
  • Highway/heavy construction (bridge building, airport design, water waste management systems, etc.)

Technical and Leadership Background

Construction engineering managers are often called upon to use computers and construction management software to produce and analyze designs for their projects. They are responsible for assembling teams of qualified engineers who can ensure completion of a given project. Construction engineering managers also need to possess the right knowledge for controlling estimation and planning of associated costs for a project

Work Responsibilities

Construction engineering managers often work out of a central office but may make frequent visits to job sites and sometimes engage in on-location work with labor. They also tour sites regularly to inspect the work being done and to ensure that proper standards in the construction project are being maintained. The typical workweek for a construction engineering manager is 40 hours, but many work longer hours in an effort to meet deadlines or solve problems that arise within a project. 

A construction engineering manager also has a host of other responsibilities. He or she is often called upon to survey the job site prior to the beginning of a project, addressing environmental issues and local laws or codes that must be followed. Before work commences, an engineering manager typically prepares a report on their findings and collaborates with others involved with the project, including governmental agencies, environmental associations, contractors, and subcontractors.

Professional Skills and Expertise

Construction engineering managers must possess a thorough understanding of laws, regulations, and building codes, especially those that have a direct impact on the project at hand. They must also be able to estimate the total cost of a given project with consideration to:

  • Site inspections
  • Drainage, sewage, and elevation level tests
  • Equipment and materials
  • Labor

Construction engineering managers are also responsible for managing the workings of various other entities involved in the project. They are responsible for providing expert supervision from beginning to end while also keeping the project running on or ahead of schedule and within budget. The job requires strong leadership and interpersonal skills and attention to detail. Like any other kind of engineer, construction engineering managers need to possess strong problem-solving, analytical, and mathematical skills.

 

Construction Engineering Management Jobs

As with other areas of construction, the job of construction engineering manager is in demand and experiencing growth. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the construction industry is expected to see upwards of 20 percent growth over the next 8 to 10 years. That alone will expand the need for qualified managers at every level of the construction process, making it a good choice when trying to decide on a career in construction.