Of the ten largest construction projects currently underway around the world, four are located in China.
The appeal of China to those with interest in the construction field is not, however, limited to current construction projects. The country is also home to a 2,000-year-old architectural history that includes the greatest construction project ever conceived by humankind, the Great Wall of China.
“Here in this country, our history only goes back four hundred years,” said Diseati. “We saw things over there that were built by man that were thousands of years old. The Great Wall is more than 2,000 years old. It’s crazy that it’s still there, that it’s held up this long.”
Even the professors were awed by the scope and scale of the Great Wall.
“You stand on it and look as far as you can in one direction, and see it. You look as far as you can the other way, and you see it. And you are only seeing maybe six miles. The wall is 4,000 miles long. It would stretch from east coast [of America] to west coast and back,” said Connell.
ECU's Construction Management faculty made the study-abroad tour a reality. From left: Huanqing (Happy) Lu, Erich Connell, Danny Morton, and George Wang.
The group also visited the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In all, it was a comprehensive look into the past, present, and future of the construction industry in China, and for many students, an unforgettable and deeply moving experience. The trip was also a rousing success for ECU and the Department of Construction Management, made possible by ECU’s faculty connections to China.
ECU professors Lu and Wang are both natives of China. They were vital to the planning and facilitation of the study abroad trip. Their goal was to design an intensive study abroad program where students could learn about the construction industry in China, study traditional Chinese architecture, understand the basics of construction education in China, meet with local Chinese people, visit historical sites, experience the culture and history of China, and prepare to find a job in China or Asia after graduation. Because of Lu and Wang’s connections in the country, the students were given the opportunity to do just that.
“The program that Dr. Lu and Dr. Wang are developing here, I think you’d have a hard time finding a rival that can match it for what East Carolina can do in terms of international construction and construction management,” said Morton.
In September, students presented posters at a reception in the Science and Technology Building highlighting their experiences in China.
By all accounts, the Department of Construction Management’s study abroad trip to China was a resounding success. Students not only gained invaluable experience related to their chose field of study, but they also learned about the global economy, and lived within a culture they came to realize was far different from their expectations. Although no definitive plans have been made for more trips, there is hope among many in the department that similar study abroad trips can occur in the future. One thing seems certain; ECU has a wonderful model to apply to future trips, regardless of academic discipline.