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New leader for ASU's Del E. Webb Construction Programs

July 17, 2009

G. Edward ("Edd") Gibson Jr., a member of the National Academy of Construction with decades of teaching, research, administration and project management experience in the field, is the new Del E. Webb School of Construction Programs Chair at Arizona State University.

The program is part of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

Gibson has been a professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering since 2006 at the University of Alabama, where he was director of a newly established Construction Engineering program. Under his leadership it has grown to more than 130 undergraduates and 15 graduate students, and raised more the $1.6 million in endowments.

He also was director of the Aging Infrastructure Systems Center for Excellence at Alabama, which has raised $2 million in research funding.

Gibson says he is choosing to come to ASU "because of the great reputation of the construction program and its faculty, the industry support it has earned, and the potential for being aligned with the construction industry in a growing region such as the Southwest."

"Edd is joining us at a critical time," says Deidre Meldrum, dean of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.  "We have recently restructured to better fulfill our mission to produce students and new knowledge that lead to solutions to the difficult urban infrastructure challenges facing society.  We feel Edd is the perfect choice to lead the construction programs as we bring them together with civil, environmental, and sustainable engineering." 

Gibson "brings the vision, leadership, and experience needed to take our nationally recognized construction programs to the next level," says Paul Johnson, engineering school executive dean.  "He recognizes the uniqueness of the situation here. We have a passionate and engaged industry, a world-class faculty, fantastic students, and untapped opportunities to better connect the construction programs to ASU’s engineering, design, business, and sustainability programs at ASU."

Gibson sees his new role as "being an enabler of the faculty and students in refocusing education and research on the most critical challenges" facing the construction industry today.

Among those challenges, he says, are ensuring students gain expertise in computer-aided construction design and planning that is in high demand in the industry, helping find solutions to the nation’s problems with aging infrastructure, and incorporating sustainability practices into all phases of construction management.

Equally as important is preparing students for careers and leadership roles in what will increasingly be a global industry – one that demands professionals skilled in working across geographical and cultural borders.

"All these challenges offer great opportunities for prospective students looking for meaningful careers, and for ASU to contribute to meeting local and global needs for sustainable engineering and construction," Gibson says.  "I think these growing needs provide us a solid potential for eventually doubling the number of construction graduates and for greatly expanding the program’s relationships with industry."

Longtime ASU construction professor William Badger, calls Gibson "the best of a new generation of teacher and researcher in construction engineering education," citing in particular the international recognition Gibson has earned for his pre-project planning research.  "His work in this area has saved the construction industry millions of dollars in total project costs," Badger says.

Gibson colleague James Slaughter Jr., president of S&B Engineers and Constructors in Houston, Texas, says he "has far greater insight into the workings of the construction business than the typical college professor. There is no communication gap between Edd and the people working in the industry.  His experience will enable him to guide research and educational efforts toward areas that will have the most significant impacts on the industry."

Prior to his years at Alabama, Gibson spent 15 years as a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. For three of those years he was associate chairman of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, which included coordinating a graduate program in construction engineering and project management.

He has helped lead almost $10 million in funded research during his career, focusing on areas such as organizational changes, planning, risk management, productivity, dispute resolution and asset management, and has twice been named the Construction Industry Institute’s  Researcher of the Year. He has developed and taught numerous continuing-education courses for industry and won several teaching awards, including the Construction Industry Institute’s Instructor of the Year and the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Outstanding Engineering Educator.

Gibson has worked as a project engineer for Texas Instruments and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He earned an MBA in engineering management from the University of Dallas and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Auburn University

He is a licensed professional engineer and a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers, and was elected to the National Academy of Construction in 2005 as its youngest member.