Master’s in construction management leads alumnus to international career

Sandeep and wife, Sirisha, stand in construction vests and hard hats with equipment in the background.
Sandeep and wife, Sirisha, on a project site.

Story by Kelsey Burket

From a young age, Sandeep Pothuri was fascinated with construction equipment and large-scale construction projects. This fascination never waned. In 2000, Pothuri enrolled as an undergraduate student at India’s Osmania University where he pursued a bachelor’s in civil engineering. After completing this degree, Pothuri quickly realized a master’s in construction management would be the next logical step. He researched graduate programs across the globe and quickly set his sights on Colorado State University’s Master of Science in construction management.

Master’s in Construction Management

Pothuri began his master’s in construction management at CSU in the fall of 2004. While in the program, he enjoyed courses such as advanced construction estimating, applied project management, issues and trends in construction management, and legal aspects of the construction process. The program culminated with a final research project in which Pothuri assessed asphalts and pavements. In particular, Pothuri researched the relationship between asphalt mixture properties and the performance of several modified asphalts so he could create better prediction models for pavement performance.

Sandeep stands on a highway that runs near Yellowstone.
Project outside of Yellowstone National Park

Because of the program’s research focus, curriculum, and emphasis on applied management, Pothuri identified his true construction passion — the heavy civil sector. Fast forward to today and Pothuri has more than 10 years of experience working on major infrastructure projects in the U.S., Middle East, and West Africa. Pothuri explains, “My bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and my master’s degree in construction management gave me a strong technical foundation. However, the M.S. in construction management provided me with the proficiency, financial knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, and business acumen needed for success in the ever-evolving construction industry.”

Jobs in heavy civil sector

After Pothuri completed the M.S. program, he began working for Oftedal Construction, Inc. based in Casper, Wyoming. During his time at Oftedal, Pothuri worked on a handful of Federal Highway Administration projects ranging from the reconstruction of stretches on the I-25 highway and the complete reconstruction and asphalt overlay of U.S. Hwy 212 including the northeast entrance for Yellowstone National Park. While Pothuri found his work at Oftedal rewarding, he realized he wanted to expand his portfolio and take on international projects.

An enormous hole stretches into the earth. This shot, taken from inside teh pump shaft, shows the depth pf the project.
Inside the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Program Pumping Station Project site

With that, Pothuri accepted a job with Odebrecht Construction, Inc. based in Miami, Florida, the group with which he is still employed today. Pothuri currently works at Odebrecht as their commercial manager. He has worked on estimating projects in West Africa, including building a 243 kilometer rail line that connects Liberia’s mining operation to their main port. He also served as the cost engineer on the Liberia Iron Ore EPCM Project, which included costing and estimating worth the CAPEX worth $5.3 billion. In addition to his projects in West Africa, Pothuri has completed numerous projects and tenders in the Middle East for the United Arab Emirates. A project that Pothuri is particularly proud of is the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Program (STEP) Pumping Station Project, which is the world’s deepest pumping station, about 50 meters in diameter and 100 meters deep.

CM degree provides ‘real-world application’

An enormous hole stretches into the earth. This aerial view shows construction equipment littered around the work site.
Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Program Pumping Station Project site

Pothuri has some words of wisdom for students considering a master’s in construction management, “If you are looking for a graduate program that offers professional, analytical, and problem-solving skills related to real-world application in the construction field, then look no further than the M.S. in construction management at CSU. The program will provide you with the education and expertise needed to lead any construction project or business. ”

The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. The focus of the CM department is on professional programs that successfully combine theory and application with a strong emphasis in applied management. For more information on the master’s program, please visit the CM website.