Building Experience

Construction management students (from left to right) Charlotte Dietrich, Erika Simmons, Davis Wallce, and Lynwood Robbins study the official drawings and contracts of the Croatan Job site.
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The new Croatan building that’s currently being built on the east side of campus will soon serve as an additional dining option for East Carolina University students. In the meantime, it is functioning as a significant educational tool for construction-management majors.

Once complete, the new Croatan will contain Chick-fil-A and Chili’s Too restaurants and space for faculty dining and catering. The facility is being built at the site of the previous Croatan building, which was demolished after a review found it would be more cost effective to build a new facility rather than renovating the older structure.

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The new Croatan building is scheduled to be complete by January 2011.


As development continues on the site, faculty members from the construction management program are videotaping the day-to-day progress. This allows the instructors to show students the daily changes at a major construction site and make it part of the classroom lesson plan. Instructors also have the official drawings and contracts of the Croatan job site, which provides students a complete picture of everything that is involved in the process.

“That’s what’s so beneficial about it,” said Danny Morton, teaching instructor for the Department of Construction Management. “Students are seeing the drawings and are seeing how everything is laid out,” he said. “Through the video they are also able to look at how it is actually being done, so it’s just like being on the job site every day.”

Since the progress is being documented every day, it provides a visual medium of the different phases involved in an $8 million project.

“It makes it much easier for them to understand the whole process of construction,” said Yong Han Ahn, assistant professor of construction management.

Bringing the project into the classroom is valuable because students are able to experience the process first-hand and have a better understanding of an actual installation that they otherwise would not have access to.

“Because of contractual issues it’s difficult to get students into a project like the Croatan,” said Morton. “Also, you cannot be in class and be out in the field at the same time.”

This real-world experience prepares students for conventional careers in the construction industry such as estimating, scheduling, project management, superintendent, safety, and quality control.

“The students are going through the exact same paperwork that the contractor is working off of,” said Morton. “They are actually getting a really good understanding of the process and developing project management tools from the contract up to close-out.”

This combination of the actual construction plans and video of daily progress gives students more insight of the various cost involved.

“Through the video they are seeing the moisture barrier going down, the welder wire fabric going down, and then they are able to see the concrete being pumped and leveled off,” said Morton. “Having a truck come in and throw concrete down a chute and spread it out, that’s one cost, but having it pumped is a higher cost.”

The video obtained for classroom instruction is also being supplied to the contractor to use in the training of their professional employees.

“It helps Rodgers Builders too, because they can go back through the video archive records—its kind of a win-win situation for everybody,” said Morton.

The Croatan project is the university’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings that emphasizes innovation in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED buildings are rated certified, silver, gold, or platinum depending on their level of efficiency and sustainability. All new construction at East Carolina must adhere to LEED building standards.

The new Croatan building is scheduled to be complete by January 2011.