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Ranked 8th

Online Masters - Best Online Master's in Construction Management 2019

The Graduate Engineering Program was nationally ranked 8th
Best Online Master's
in Construction Management
by Online Masters.

Nationally Ranked

Badge OnlinePrograms GradEngineering 2017

The Graduate Engineering Program was nationally ranked 28th Best Online Engineering Program by US News & World Report for excellence in online engineering education.

Nationally Ranked

Best Online Construction Mgmt 2016

The Master of Engineering degree was nationally ranked third (3rd) by Affordable Colleges Online for Best Online Construction Management Program.

Wesley ZechWesley C. Zech, PhD, LEED AP
Professor and Director of Civil Engineering Construction Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Wesley C. Zech is currently a Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering and serves as the Director of Civil Engineering Construction Management. Prior to his appointment with the University of Alabama Birmingham, he was the Brasfield and Gorrie Professor of Construction Engineering and Management at Auburn University. He earned a B.S. (1999), M.E. (2000), and a Ph.D. (2004) from the University at Buffalo in Western, NY. He was employed at Auburn University since 2004 and taught courses in the areas of construction engineering, project management, construction safety and health management, construction equipment and methods, erosion and sediment control applications in construction, and sustainable design and construction.

In addition to teaching, he has conducted external research in collaboration with the Alabama Department of Transportation and Ohio Department of Transportation that led to the development of the Auburn University Erosion and Sediment Control Testing Facility. His research efforts focused on applying full-scale testing techniques to evaluate the performance of various erosion and sediment control practices commonly used in construction, including: silt fence tiebacks, the use of polyacrylamide, hydromulches, ditch checks, inlet protection measures, sediment barriers, catch basin inserts, and sediment basins. Many of the research results from these efforts have been adopted as standard erosion and sediment control practices used on highway construction projects in the state of Alabama. His current research endeavors include characterizing the performance of sediment barrier systems, using unmanned aerial vehicles for construction site inspections, and the design and deployment of a rainfall simulator used to evaluate erosion control measures. Other areas of research expertise include construction safety, work zone safety, and the use of unmanned aerial systems for construction site inspections. He is married to his wife April and they have two children, Watson (5) and Winter (4).

Dianne GilmerDianne K. Gilmer, MEng
Instructor and Assistant Director, Civil Engineering Construction Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Dianne K. Gilmer is an instructor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is the Co-Founder and Assistant Director of the Construction Engineering Management Master of Engineering Degree track of study. Ms. Gilmer is a Birmingham native and received her BS in Business Administration/Finance from Samford University in 1989. After graduation, she took a position with CB/Richard Ellis in Atlanta. She worked for the company as an Administrative Supervisor in the Commercial Real Estate Appraisal office. She went on to take the position of a Regional Administrative Manager – Brokerage Services in the Washington D.C. region. In her roles, Ms. Gilmer had extensive interaction with employees and clients. She was an integral part of a relocation committee that organized and conducted space planning for the consolidation of two commercial real estate offices. She implemented corporate administrative policies and budget reduction techniques in the Atlanta, San Francisco, and Baltimore offices. Preparing annual budgets and monitoring for compliance were also part of her responsibilities.

Ms. Gilmer returned to Birmingham in 1996 to raise her children. During this time, she was extremely active in the local community, schools and her church. She was also heavily involved in local politics. Once her children were both in school, she returned to industry. Technology had dramatically changed the world while she was home raising her children and she realized she must retool and re-educate. A local HVAC/Plumbing design mechanical engineering firm looking to hire a spec coordinator was willing to educate and train Ms. Gilmer. Not only did she coordinate specs for the firm, she developed and launched the company’s first ever website. She helped the company establish a successful web presence and place them in a more marketable position to maintain strong client relations. She assisted with proposal development and maintained the database of architectural drawings. She worked with company leaders to create a more rewarding and positive work environment for all employees.

In 2007, Ms. Gilmer was hired to assist Dr. Bill Hitchcock in developing and launching the Construction Engineering Management track of study at UAB. Ms. Gilmer understood that individuals must constantly be learning. In 2009, she received her Master of Engineering degree with a concentration in Construction Engineering Management from UAB. Ms. Gilmer is the primary instructor for the Advanced Project Management and Strategic Leadership/Management courses. Being a program co-founder, alumni and faculty member is an honor for Ms. Gilmer and she is passionate about UAB and the CECM track of study! Hoping to inspire and motivate students to critically think and problem solve is extremely important to Ms. Gilmer. One of her favorite expressions is “our students are online, but never alone.” She understands the importance of meeting students where they are and keeping them engaged in an online environment. She works closely with all course instructors in course delivery, management and communication. She serves as the Academic Advisor and is an advocate for all CECM students. In addition to instruction, she is involved heavily in student recruiting and retention. The success of CECM students is paramount to her!

The CECM track of study was initially offered in 2008, with on-campus classes being the only option. The program has evolved and is now fully online. Since the program’s inception, 503 students have earned their Master of Engineering degree from UAB. Currently, 148 students are enrolled.

Fran LefortFrançoise C. Lefort, MA TESOL
Instructional Design Manager, Civil Engineering Construction Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Françoise Lefort is the Instructional Design Manager for CECM.  Ms Lefort brings a unique blend of teaching experience and technical expertise from a diverse professional background to assist with the design of online instruction and facilitate the use of technology in the Construction Engineering Management Master track of study.

To help support the program’s commitment to providing a top quality online education experience within a collaborative and interactive virtual environment, Ms. Lefort spends a great deal of time monitoring weekly virtual synchronous class sessions, online activity during proctored exams, as well as punctually publishing instructional content and recorded lectures through Canvas.  Ms. Lefort meets with faculty and students, in person or in the virtual classroom, to provide hands–on training and support.  Topics include Canvas, lecture capture tools and virtual classroom for faculty, while students receive assistance in testing equipment, accessing course materials, and learn how to participate, present and work in groups in the virtual classroom.  Ms. Lefort is the liaison to relevant support personnel for the technologies currently in place in the CECM online Master and, working closely with the CECM team, coordinates the implementation of new tools to support CECM Distance Education goals.

Although her initial goals were teaching languages, Ms. Lefort taught French and ESL for a short time, and has worked in technology since the mid-'90s, an interest developed while translating computer training materials for New Horizons Computer Learning Centers. To expand on technical skills, she took a position at National TechTeam providing computer support to Owens Corning employees worldwide.  She later joined the IT Department at the Ann Arbor District library, Ann Arbor, MI, where she developed and implemented a computer training program to enable better use of the first networked computers, and delivered hands-on training to librarians and staff.  Ms. Lefort developed and maintained the Computer Staff Training website to publish instructional materials, on-line scheduling and class evaluations.

As new technologies emerged in education, Ms. Lefort came back to an academic setting to work in the field of instructional technology since 2003. She managed the ePortfolios project at Miami Dade College InterAmerican campus, a grant project aimed at implementing electronic portfolios and integrating technology in the curriculum.  She assisted faculty with the conversion of course materials for use with on-line portfolios, provided technology training and support to faculty and students, and developed the ePortfolio website to provide resources and to showcase outcomes of the project.  Following her husband’s relocation to Birmingham, Ms. Lefort joined UAB to teach a course on Instructional Technology for the School of Education. The course aimed to prepare pre-service teachers in integrating technology in their teaching.  Ms. Lefort later joined UAB’s Instructional Technology group where she assisted faculty in designing/developing online courses and conducted hands-on training sessions on Blackboard and associated tools.

Ms. Lefort received her BA in French/English from Hunter College, NY, and her MA in TESOL – Teaching English to Speaker of Other Languages from Eastern Michigan University, MI.  Born and raised in France, Ms. Lefort came to the United States in her early twenties with the goal of improving her English and discovering America.  A US citizen for many years, she still enjoys the ongoing learning experience that comes from being exposed to very contrasting cultures.

Allen MurphreeAllen J. Murphree, M. Eng.
Instructor, Civil Engineering Construction Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Allen J. Murphree is an Instructor and Student Relations Manager in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. In 1990, he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University, located in Marietta, Georgia. Mr. Murphree is a Certified Engineer Intern with the Georgia State Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. After graduation, he worked in Georgia as an architectural designer for a large residential development company. In 1991, Mr. Murphree joined a Birmingham civil and environmental consulting engineering firm, which offers engineering services to municipal and county governments. There, he used his engineering education to successfully design large site development projects, storm water drainage systems, various utility systems, water and wastewater treatment plants, industrial parks, building facilities, solid waste landfills, roadways and several Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) projects. In addition to design, Mr. Murphree also worked as the firm’s Construction Service Manager, providing contractor oversight, construction observation and construction management duties to protect client-owners during construction. In 2009, he became a company Vice President and was appointed as the Secretary of the Board, giving him an opportunity to take on a larger leadership role and more business duties. In 2012, Mr. Murphree completed his Master of Engineering degree in Construction Engineering Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The CECM track of study provided him with the knowledge to manage more effectively, enhanced his strategic problem-solving techniques, and improved his business skills to better address daily financial, legal and risk issues.

In addition to his engineering work, Mr. Murphree is also a co-owner of a Birmingham residential design firm, which was incorporated in year 2001. He is the Executive Member and chief architectural designer for all custom home and remodeling projects. Mr. Murphree is an Alabama Licensed Contractor and Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD).

After dedicating over 24 years to the civil engineering, construction management and architectural fields, Mr. Murphree brings his education and work experiences to the classroom. He began his UAB career in 2014. Currently, he is the Primary Instructor of the Construction Project Risk Management, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and Primavera P6 Project Scheduling and Control courses. In addition to teaching, Mr. Murphree provides educational and technical support to students, instructors, professors and program directors.

Dr Jason KirbyJason Thomas Kirby, Ph.D.
Associate Professor (Tenured)
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Kirby has a strong teaching portfolio that includes five UAB Civil Engineering required courses and nine electives offered at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels.  Topics address environmental engineering, water resources and the emerging field of sustainable engineering.  Courses have been offered via traditional classroom lecture, the Interactive Intercampus Telecommunication System (ITTS), Study Away and Online / Blended instruction to support student and departmental needs. Student evaluations have consistently indicated that Dr. Kirby’s teaching performance is excellent.  

In 2008, Dr. Kirby helped to develop a formal UAB academic partnership with Misr University of Science and Technology (MUST) located in Cairo, Egypt.  He was designated as Program Director of the Civil Engineering International Certificate Programs in 2009.  While, Arab Spring revolutions have hindered recent development, Dr. Kirby has been actively pursuing additional international collaborations, including a 2013 MOU with Staffordshire University (England) to pursue online education related to sustainable smart cities.

Over the past seven years, Dr. Kirby has proven to be a collaborative researcher and has helped secure in excess of one million dollars of extramural funds for UAB.  He has served as principal investigator or co- investigator on eight research grants in the areas of environmental engineering, water resources and sustainable construction.  These efforts were valuable in facilitating the graduation of thirteen Master’s students and two Doctoral students, all of whom transitioned into Civil Engineering careers.  Additional students are currently funded by ongoing research efforts.  Dr. Kirby’s work has been presented at numerous international, national and regional venues.  He has contributed to several book chapters, external research reports, and multiple publications in peer reviewed journals; in addition to preparing a number of papers for peer reviewed proceedings.  

Dr. Kirby is currently focusing his research efforts into the development of "New Green/Sustainable Building Materials."  Active /ongoing projects are examining innovative composite materials, non-traditional construction systems, energy efficient technologies, green roof installations and the comprehensive design of affordable, energy efficient residential housing which exhibits superior indoor air quality.  

University / Professional Service:
Dr. Kirby conducts extensive student outreach and recruiting activities in support of UAB’s educational objectives.  Among these efforts he coordinates the Civil Engineering department’s outreach at local high schools, science and technology fairs, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and he represents UAB Civil Engineering at the annual UAB SOE BlazerBest and Open House events.

Dr. Kirby is heavy involved in his respective professional association, The American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE), and has served as the UAB ASCE student chapter’s faculty advisor since 2005.  In this role, Dr. Kirby helps in the organization’s fundraising efforts and regularly solicits guest speakers that reinforce engineering fundamentals, the importance of professional licensure and the value of professional ethics.  He encourages students to volunteer in community outreach and has led the regional competition team to win several awards on behalf of UAB. 

In 2010, Dr. Kirby initiated UAB’s first “Order of the Engineer” link / induction ceremony.  This national organization is devoted to the promotion of engineering ethics.  
Personal:  Dr. Kirby has been married to his wife, Ellen, for 13 years and they have one young son.  He is an avid marksman, motorcycle rider, and Sci-fi movie enthusiast.

Dr_Christopher_WaldronChristopher J. Waldron, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Professor
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Waldron is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He brings a diverse mix of public and private sector experience with him to UAB that give a unique perspective to his teaching and research. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in the Roadway Management Division, where he assisted with the development and implementation of life-cycle cost analysis techniques to prioritize infrastructure spending, and he worked for INTECH Construction in Philadelphia as an assistant project engineer where he oversaw and managed the daily operations of several subcontractors. After completing his graduate degrees, Dr. Waldron worked as a bridge engineer at FIGG where he worked on the design, load rating, and construction support of many signature bridges, including the Allegheny River Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA (PA Turnpike over the Allegheny River), the Veteran’s Glass City Skyway Bridge in Toledo, OH (I-280 over the Maumee River), the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory in Prospect, ME (US-1 over the Penobscot River), and the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minneapolis, MN (I-35W over the Mississippi River.)

Dr. Waldron was born in Hollywood, Florida, but has also spent five or more years in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Alabama living in such diverse cities as Blacksburg, Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia and his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, all in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Structural Engineering. While at Virginia Tech and since coming to UAB in 2008, Dr. Waldron has taught fourteen different classes ranging from the sophomore level to the Ph.D. graduate level in the areas of mechanics, structural analysis, concrete design, and construction management. He has taught Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Advanced Mechanics of Materials, Structural Analysis, Advanced Structural Analysis, Reinforced Concrete Design, Advanced Reinforced Concrete Design, Senior Design, Elastic Stability of Structures, Concrete Materials, Engineering Economics, two Construction Methods and Equipment courses, and Estimating and Bidding.

While pursuing his graduate degrees, Dr. Waldron’s research focus was the application of new and improved materials to bridge construction. For his Master’s research he performed experimental verification of the strength, stiffness, and mechanical behavior of fiber-reinforced polymer girders developed by Strongwell, Inc. that were subsequently used as the main load carrying elements of the Route 601 Bridge over Dickey Creek in Sugar Grove, VA. Dr. Waldron’s Ph.D. research involved the characterization of the long-term creep and shrinkage properties of several high strength / high performance concrete mixtures being implemented by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to better estimate the effects of long-term prestress loss in girders cast using these concrete mixtures. Since coming to UAB in the Fall of 2008, Dr. Waldron has continued to focus his research efforts on improving the design and construction of bridges. He has completed projects investigating the effects of heavier trucks and higher truck volumes on the bridge network and investigated ways to improve the accuracy of bridge load rating through the use of weigh-in-motion data and by calibrating finite element models of the bridge with load tests. He has also worked on projects to aid in the design of prefabricated and fast-track construction techniques for bridges.

Dr. Waldron is married and has four children…three boys and a girl. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching home improvement shows, fixing things, and being outdoors.

Michael KnappMichael Knapp
Instructor, Civil Engineering Construction Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Michael Knapp is the instructor for the Construction Liability and Contracts course in the CECM track of study.

Mr. Knapp enjoys a national practice which focuses primarily on construction, business and commercial disputes and financial services litigation. For the past several years, his focus has been on large scale public and private construction project disputes spread equally among owners, developers, engineers, architects, contractors and sureties. In recent years, Mr. Knapp has worked on several high profile construction defect class action matters that involved claims of moisture intrusion and mold infestation. Additionally, Mr. Knapp has worked with a number of clients in drafting, structuring and negotiating even handed contracts in an attempt to avoid disputes between the parties. He is also experienced in the resolution of disputes, including mediation, arbitration, and litigation in state and federal courts across the country.

Mr. Knapp has given numerous in house and public lectures on topics including the construction effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, revisions to the American Institute of Architects and Associated General Contractors form contracts, proper claims procedures and practical construction project documentation. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, Mr. Knapp had the honor of teaching a construction law course to engineering students at Misr University located near Cairo, Egypt.

Mr. Knapp is a member of the State Bars of North Carolina, District of Columbia and California.

Before joining Bradley, Mr. Knapp served in the United States Navy as a Judge Advocate from 1995 to 1998 where he was the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for the Commanding Officer of Naval Station San Diego, the home of the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet. In addition, Mr. Knapp served as a prosecutor where he tried several felony crimes to verdict.

After his Navy service, Mr. Knapp practiced law in San Diego for five years before returning to the Southeast.