William J. Angelo/ENR
Hasso discusses study findings with Vo (left) and Bernadin.

Mark Hasso’s students come to school in baggy shorts, turned-around baseball caps and shaved heads. They’ll leave with marketable degrees, hands-on construction experience, great contacts and $60,000-plus job offers. The civil engineering and construction management professor at Boston’s Wentworth Institute of Technology knows what the industry wants and makes sure his graduates deliver. A day with the veteran engineer-academic shows how dedicated, involved individuals are changing the face of construction education.

Sophomore Krystale Goodridge arrives at 8 a.m. to talk with Hasso, the school’s CM program coordinator, about transferring in from the architecture program. She sees better prospects managing bricks and mortar. “Last year, starting salaries averaged about $53,000,” says Hasso. “This year, they are in the 60s because industry is realizing the quality of our grads. Big firms recruit here all the time.”  He ticks off a list of major New England contractors that have hired hundreds of Wentworth graduates.

With more than 500 students, the 103-year-old school’s CM department is its second-largest program and one of the nation’s top ten. CM is growing as a hot specialty, with four new faculty joining this fall, says Hasso. Wentworth will graduate 79 CM students this year, 100 next year and up to 130 by 2009. “That will be a stable number in the future,” he says. “Grads are 100% employed and seniors generally make a commitment by April or May.” The school also has a civil engineering technology program with 200 students and is launching an environmental science unit next semester.

Goodridge and Hasso discuss what CM is all about and new opportunities for women. He soon prints up her new schedule and she prepares for a fall transfer.

Stopping by later are Adler Bernadin and An Vo, seniors earning extra credit by studying how software firm Primavera is upgrading its P3 industry line. This will help other students make the transition.

Hasso is a 19-year Wentworth veteran who previously launched his own engineering firm and worked in four other startups, all focused on advanced technology and management. Even with a heavy classload, he still consults, writes books on CM professional practice, stays active in industry groups and does outside volunteer work.

Guest lecturers are frequent. Today, it’s Gary J. Cunningham, safety manager for the Massachusetts Port Authority. He discusses safety philosophy and management, risk assessment and daily job meetings. Hasso uses humor and prodding to engage the class with their speaker.

Hasso uses the the senior project as a tool to teach students how to develop and present a CM services proposal. Three presentations are made to industry senior managers. “We do a comprehensive final presentation that is equal to or better than that found in industry,” he says. “Profits are tight and productivity efficiencies are under the gun. We need to constantly prepare the next generation of managers who will help revolutionize construction management practices.”