x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Building boom prompts new course

A university has launched a degree designed to train the brains to guide Dubai through its building boom.

A university has launched a degree designed to train the brains to guide Dubai through its building boom. The construction project management course at the Dubai campus of Michigan State University (MSU), was designed with the city's 2015 strategic plan in mind, after consultation with the Government. The campus, which opened last month in Academic City, received 120 applications. Of the 55 accepted, a fifth, many of them Emiratis, are studying construction. "The industry here is booming, and a course like this suits its demands," said Donald Nambugiri, the project manager at Michigan State University. "Students have been asking for a course like construction project management for a while," Mr Nambugiri added. "We think that it falls in line with what is hoped for Dubai. Primarily the course is there to add to the country's values and to help achieve the Government's objectives." Dr Robert von Bernuth, assistant dean of the Construction Management Programme at MSU, said he believes there is a growing need for such degrees. "In Dubai there is huge activity going on in construction. It made a lot of sense for us to look at whether or not that was a place where the talents our graduates have would be useful." Before opening the campus the university carried out research on which programmes would best suit Dubai. "We talked to a lot of construction firms before opening and it just appeared to us that there was a lot of potential," Dr von Bernuth added, noting a lack of qualified locals in middle management in the construction industry. MSU began offering a degree in construction project management in 1948, and the programme has been a very popular choice at the university since then, he said. It emphasises management, but students also learn some technological aspects of the construction industry. "To take this course, the student must have excelled in maths, chemistry and physics in high school," Mr Nambugiri said. "Once graduated from this course, the student will start off as an engineer but will have a management edge, which is needed for Dubai. There are very few management-related construction courses in Dubai." Mr Nambugiri added that the programme would include hands-on experience in the industry. "We are working closely with the Roads and Transport Authority on this course. We also do a lot of research-based work, and community development. The majority of it - case-studies - is UAE/Dubai specific." MSU, which ranked 71st on US News and World Report's 2009 list of best American colleges, offers five undergraduate degrees in Dubai. They include computer engineering, early childhood education, media management and research, and child and youth development. It is the eighth-largest university in the United States, with more than 46,000 students. It will be the first US university in Dubai to award degrees based on work carried out here. MSU Dubai is also offering two master's degrees, in human resources and labour relations, and retailing. MSU says it is offering the same quality of education in Dubai as in the US, and claims admissions in the UAE have been more selective: the autumn 2007 acceptance rate at its campus in East Lansing, Michigan, was 73.8 per cent; in Dubai less than 46 per cent of applicants were admitted. klewis@thenational.ae nsamaha@thenational.ae