Successful Education

We find it necessary to take exception to a comment in your editorial, "Industry and Academics Need to Hunt for Success" (ENR 12/6/04 p. 64). For the students in construction programs, there is no decrease in enrollment. In fact, in the 67 programs accredited by the American Council for Construction Education and the 10 candidate programs, every program is growing by double digits, except for those programs which have grown so fast and stretched their resources so much that they have had to limit their enrollment with higher entrance qualifications.

There is clearly a growing need, and demand, for educated construction science and construction management professionals as graduates are 100% employed at graduation, with salaries in the top 10% of their respective campuses.

In 1974, after several years of consensus building, construction professionals and educators founded the American Council for Construction Education. They addressed the fact that engineering was becoming more of a science, focusing on design, and construction was demanding people educated in a broader foundation of construction sciences, business, management, leadership and ethics. Internships are encouraged in all and required in many programs. Construction management and construction science graduates from ACCE accredited programs have the education and skills to begin their career as a constructor.

The council’s quality standards are the result of collaboration between industry and educational professionals. This council has promoted professional goals of the construction industry for the last 30 years and continues to evolve for future generations. Just as constructors bridge the transition from design to reality, so does the curriculum of ACCE programs prepare students to be that bridge.

PLA Lowered Bridge Cost

I read with interest your cover story on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project near Washington, D.C. (ENR 1/31 p. 26). Since two of the three contracts, totaling over $377 million, are being worked under a union project labor agreement administered by this office, I believe I am in a unique and qualified position to comment.

Your article infers that a union-only PLA in the job specifications would have increased the cost of the project and decreased competition. However, two joint ventures bidding under the PLA (our Heavy and Highway Construction Project Agreement) were successful in obtaining 76% of the Wilson bridge, thereby beating their competition by over $40 million, a large savings for the taxpayers of Maryland.

You also reported that $362 million was saved by separating the Wilson bridge into three contracts from its initial single contract, and re-bidding it. Yet, you failed to report that numerous design changes were made after the initial bid was rejected, changes which substantially reduced the total cost of the bridge.

However, as you reported, this massive project is on schedule and under budget. We are not surprised, as that has been and always will be our objective here at the National Alliance.