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Photo of Tom Boldt, Awad Hanna, Oscar Boldt, Ian Robertson
June 22, 2017

Awad Hanna: Decades of leadership for construction engineering and management

Written By: Silke Schmidt

The University of Wisconsin-Madison runs one of only six programs in the nation for construction engineering and management (CEM), and much of the credit for that goes to Awad Hanna, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who established the highly ranked program during the early 1990s with his colleague Jeffrey Russell. Today, it has one of the highest percentages of female graduates from the College of Engineering.

Hanna estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the department’s undergraduates pursue CEM as a program emphasis and career choice. He and Russell also co-founded the Construction Club, a popular student organization that provides leadership experience and industry networking opportunities.

In addition to his passion for teaching and mentoring CEM trainees, including more than 100 master’s degree and 12 PhD students to date, Hanna also maintains a busy research portfolio and has been named the most productive labor productivity researcher worldwide by the editors of a major academic field journal, the Critical Review of Labor Productivity in Construction.

Hanna’s track record includes a prestigious outstanding researcher award from the Construction Industry Institute and being an elected fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, an honor conferred upon only two percent of its members. He also received the Thomas Fitch Rowland award for a paper based upon a close partnership with the Boldt Company, which traces its origins to a small carpentry shop opened in 1889 in Appleton, Wisconsin, by Martin Boldt.

Since those early days, the Boldt Company has grown into one of the largest construction contractors in the nation with more than 2,000 employees at 13 locations and a portfolio that spans a wide range of industries. Honoring many years of productive collaboration, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has now awarded Hanna the Boldt Company Professorship, established to support Hanna’s construction research and foster the CEM program at UW-Madison.

“With this named professorship, I am excited to continue to focus on lean value-driven construction and integrated lean project delivery, which is one of Boldt’s core principles,” Hanna says. “Boldt has been one of the most generous sponsors of the CEM program, our students and our faculty, and we really appreciate their consistent and reliable support.”