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About the CEM Program

In this Section

The Construction Engineering Management (CEM) Program at Clarkson University is a program within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  This program prepares graduates for careers in the Construction Industry through coursework, experiential opportunities and co-curricular activities.  As cited by Engineering News Record on numerous occasions, Construction is a field of national need that has exceptional career opportunites well into the future.

Program Offerings

For undergraduates, the CEM Program offers a concentration in Construction Engineering Management.  More information can be obtained on that concentration here.

The CEM Program emphasizes real-world experience as a part of an overall undergraduate experience.  There is more information here about how this happens and you can be a part of those efforts.

For graduate students, a new Master's of Engineering (ME), in Civil Engineering with a focus in CEM is now available.  For more information on the ME, go here.

Program Leadership/Faculty

Erik C. Backus, PE, LEED AP BD+C, FMP - The Howard E. Lechler ’48, MS ’53, HD ’78 Endowed Director of the CEM Program

Spencer Thew, PE, PLS - Distinguished Service Professor of Civil Engineering

Jared Heinl, PE, RLA - Adjunct Assistant Professor (Secretary of the Board, Civil Engineer/Project Manager at Beardsley Architects + Engineers)

William B. Olsen - Instructor and GIS Coordinator (providing support from the CEE Department)

James J. "Jim" Billings, PE - Adjunct Instructor (Formerly of HNTB/Barton & Loguidice/JA Jones Construction Company)

Leo Titus, Jr., PE - Adjunct Instructor (President, ECS Mid-Atlantic Ltd.)

Strategic Plan

The CEM Program at Clarkson has a multi-year strategic plan in place to guide its efforts in the future.  The full plan can be obtained here.  Key highlights of the plan include:

Our Vision:  Through the education of our students, through those students engaging in tangible projects and efforts, and through faculty and institutional reputation, to be the branded premiere construction engineering management program, to be recognized and known regionally as among the best in construction education within civil engineering, and to be known as the construction program on the rise nationally.

Our Goals:  Attain a Brand Standing, Harbor Excellence through Deeper and Broader Relationships, and Build on the Program’s Sustainable Future.  These three themes will pervade the efforts going forward and spell out how we seek to accomplish the vision for the CEM program at Clarkson.

History of CEM at Clarkson University

In 1966, Clarkson University made a fortuitous decision, it hired Mr. Spencer Thew as an Instructor (in 1969 he was made Adjunct Instructor).  A true northern New York loyalist, Spence is the founder and, up until recently, the owner of Atlantic Testing Laboratories and Thew Associates, PLLC in Canton, NY.  For 40 years, Mr. Thew ran a multi-million dollar environmental and geotechnical consulting, testing, and construction inspection firm by day and taught classes in construction management, construction engineering and construction materials in the late afternoon/early evening each semester at Clarkson.  That status changed slightly when in 1998 the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department created the Construction Engineering Management (CEM) Concentration.  As the sole Construction faculty, Spencer oversaw the formulation and management of that curricular change.  A few years later, as a result of student interest in this area of civil engineering, additional courses in Estimating and Scheduling and Architectural Engineering were offered, and additional adjunct faculty came into the picture to assist in the increased teaching load.  After two promotions (to Adjunct Assistant Professor and Adjunct Associate Professor) and years of leadership, progress continued another step when Mr. Thew stepped in as the Director of the Construction Engineering Management program in 2011-2012.  At this same time, the program hired an additional adjunct faculty member to teach courses in BIM and GIS.  With these additions also came a strategic plan, a formal Industry Advisory Board and wider recognition of the program within the Department but also across the University and regionally.  Part of this recognition came when the program’s students began competing in the Associated Schools of Construction annual competition as part of the university wide Student Projects for Engineering Experience & Design (SPEED) program and were very competitive.  Significant in the first strategic plan, and a primary task for Mr. Thew, was the search for and hiring of a full time Director of the program with the explicit intent of it becoming an endowed position.  In late 2014, Mr. Erik Backus was appointed as the first full time Director of CEM.