Marjan Sadeghi awarded first Ph.D. in collaborative Construction Engineering and Management program

Marjan Sadeghi
Marjan Sadeghi

New alumna, Marjan Sadeghi, truly earned her degree, having overcome some adversities to finally become Dr. Sadeghi. She is the first student to complete the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Construction Engineering and Management. The program is a collaborative effort between the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Management.

In 2016, Sadeghi finally received her long-awaited visa and, traveling alone from Iran, made her way to Fort Collins. She arrived at Denver International Airport, and was greeted by a host family, who would become her means of not only support, but transportation to CSU.

BIM software research

Having completed her master’s in Construction Management from Shahid Beheshi University in Tehran, Iran, one year before, Sadeghi chose CSU for her doctoral program because of both the construction management program, and the integrated project design (IPD) and building information modeling (BIM), the emphasis of her research. She has won various awards, recognition and even scholarships for that research.

A self-starter, Sadeghi was captivated by the BIM software, but realized there was computer science involved, for which she had not received formal training. So she set out to teach herself. She worked at The Neenan Company in Fort Collins, where they utilized a software platform that was unfamiliar to her. She figured it out, even becoming a subject matter expert – to the point of later speaking at different industry conferences regarding the software.

Sadeghi’s dissertation, “Information-augmented Building Information Models (BIM) to Inform Facilities Management (FM) guidelines,” comprised a highly technical and pioneering effort to transition BIM technologies from the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) arena to the building operation phase. Traditionally, AEC-purposed BIMs are created with the specific intent of generating the information needed to build a structure. And, while the information required for O&M is provided to a project owner, this data is often transferred in hardcopy and is disconnected from the BIM.

Through the exploration of many existing BIM platforms, significant exploration and computer programing, Sadeghi produced a process for transitioning BIM data to FM called the Level of Semantics (LOS) Schema. She has presented a portion of her work at numerous academic conferences (Construction Research Congress) and industry conventions (BIMforum, Autodesk University, etc.), published a manuscript in the Journal of Facility Management, and received the University Innovation Award for her research.

Sadeghi completed her dissertation under the oversight of co-advisers Neil Grigg, Ph.D., and Jon Elliott, Ph.D., from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Construction Management, respectively.

‘Dream job’

Sadeghi attributes much of her success to her mentors from PCL of Denver, Neenan of Fort Collins, and faculty and colleagues from the Department of Construction Management, where she also worked as a graduate teaching assistant. “I loved my GTA experience – the teaching was great, but I also learned a lot,” she said.

Integrated Design Team with Sadeghi front, 3rd from left
2019 Integrated Design Team – Sadeghi is front, third from left.

Her future includes holding her “dream job” at VIATechnik in Denver, encompassing elements of her dissertation, which is being involved in computer design software development, with her hope of “improving all elements of design, construction and facilities management for the betterment of the industry.”

Sadeghi commented, “I like this country; I can be myself. I have made good friends here, especially in Fort Collins, people are so nice!” When asked for her advice to future female CM students, she said, “If this is your passion, stick to it – it’s not a gender thing. And for Ph.D. candidates, make sure it is what you want. Then, every single day you choose the right way or the easy way – it is up to you.”

More about the Ph.D. program

The Ph.D. program in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Construction Engineering and Management is a collaborative effort between the departments of civil and environmental engineering and construction management at CSU, and the first students were admitted in fall 2016. Construction Engineering and Management is the managing of construction projects by applying knowledge and skills in engineering, resource management, ethics, sustainability, schedule and cost control, design, safety, and other aspects of the construction process.  The Ph.D. program is designed to provide an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines courses in estimating and scheduling with the basics of civil engineering, business, management, communication skills, and the humanities. The focus is on integrating innovative management systems, computers and other technologies into the construction process.

The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.