Seminar: Labor Challenges in the Construction Industry: Investigating the Nature and Development of Expertise

Event Date: December 4, 2017
Speaker: Denise Simmons, PhD, PE, PMP, LEED-AP
Speaker Affiliation: Virginia Tech
Time: 11:30 am - 12:20 pm
Location: HAMP 3153
Contact Name: Kyu Kang
Contact Email:
Priority: No
School or Program: Construction Engineering and Management
College Calendar: Show
Denise Simmons—Assistant Professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech—will speak at 11:30am Dec. 4 in Hampton Hall Room 3153.

Seminar: Labor Challenges in the Construction Industry: Investigating the Nature and Development of Expertise

Denise Simmons, PhD, PE, PMP, LEED-AP
Assistant Professor, Myers-Lawson School of Construction
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Affiliate Faculty, Department of Engineering Education
Virginia Tech

December 4, 2017
11:30 AM
HAMP 3153

For more information:  Kyu Kang,


There is a large body of literature that focuses on identifying missing and the most important competencies for improving graduate employability in construction. Critical workplace competencies are described as those that are deep in a discipline and broad across many disciplines. Employers mainly point to professional competencies as missing from recent graduates. The college environment is a fertile setting for competence development through involvement in non-classroom settings, where students actually spend the majority of their time. However, this is often overlooked as a potential pathway to expertise development. These out-of- class activities can also help students value their major and commit to a career in engineering broadly or the construction industry specifically. There is a need to increase civil and construction engineering students' awareness of competency gaps and help them identify and determine how these competencies can be developed during college by being involved in classroom and out-of-class activities.

During the presentation, Dr. Simmons will discuss her interdisciplinary construction engineering and management research which blends social science methods and theories to investigate competence development of civil and construction engineering students. She will also discuss the common and misconceptions of leadership development among employers in construction, faculty and students.

Dr. Denise Simmons is an assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and an affiliate faculty of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering and a graduate certificate in engineering education – all from Clemson University. She has over 14 years of experience working for energy companies and as a project management consultant. Her research contributes to the advancement of labor and personnel issues in engineering broadly and specifically in the construction industry through two research areas: untangling the complex relationship between activities people become involved in — operationalized as engagement — and the technical and professional outcomes gained — operationalized as competencies. The broader impact of this work lies in achieving and sustaining productive, diverse and inclusive project organizations composed of engaged, competent people. Dr. Simmons’ research is supported by awards from NSF, including a CAREER award. She oversees the Simmons Research Lab (, which is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary mix of undergraduate and graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher from various colleges and departments at Virginia Tech who work together to explore engineering and construction human centered issues with an emphasis on understanding difference and disparity.