Ozbek amplifies impact of the Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair

Colorado State University Department of Construction Management’s Professor Mehmet E. Ozbek, who was named the department’s Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair last summer, had a busy and productive year. Some of the highlights of his teaching, research, mentoring, and service activities this past year served to improve this prestigious Chair’s name recognition, internationally. Ozbek credits the additional opportunities and funds this Chair has provided, in pursuing these activities and scholarly goals overall.

Impact in the classroom

In addition to teaching his regular courses, Ozbek developed and co-taught, with Asli Pelin Gurgun, Ph.D., from the Turkish Yildiz Technical University, a new graduate level course entitled, “Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Techniques in Construction and Engineering.” This course addresses construction and engineering related decision-making problems involving multiple criteria and explores various multi-criteria decision-making techniques using case study applications.

Given its multi-disciplinary nature, this course was taken by M.S. and Ph.D. students pursuing different degrees such as construction management, architecture, civil engineering, environmental engineering, and systems engineering, as well as working professionals and members of the U.S. armed forces. Further adding to the diversity of students, this course also had students from Yildiz Technical University who joined the sessions online, as per a memorandum of understanding promoting collaborative efforts between the two institutions. The first offering of this unique course was a success by any measure and allowed students from different disciplines and countries to interact with each other, while developing solutions to real-life decision-making problems.

New directions in transportation research

Screenshot of 9 class member online
Online international class, Ozbek top center

Ozbek, along with his research collaborators, was awarded two projects funded by the U. S. Department of Transportation. One of these projects entitled, “Incorporation of Social Equity Considerations into Transportation Asset Management,” investigates how social equity considerations can be integrated into the decision-making process for transportation assets. This research combines management, engineering, and social sciences and provides a unique training opportunity for a Ph. D. student who was recruited using the funds provided by the Joseph Phelps Chair Endowment.

Ozbek has also delivered talks in numerous venues including a Keynote Address at the 14th International Congress on Advances in Civil Engineering, a lightning talk at the CSU College of Health and Human Sciences Research Day, as well as in a webinar attended by professionals from all around the world during the launch event of the American Society of Civil Engineers “Future World Vision” platform. These talks focused on humans’ responsibility and ability to imagine and create the future, and what we should be thinking and planning now, to create the future of the infrastructure and the built environment.

Bringing the future world vision to CSU

Ozbek was elected to serve on a national committee as a subject matter expert to represent the construction discipline to provide input during the development and testing of ASCE’s Future World Vision platform, which is a forward-leaning strategic assessment project, creating a digital and interactive computer model to envision the future of the infrastructure and the built environment.

This project depicts plausible cities 50 years from today with the goal of helping professionals from the public and private sectors as well as academia, prepare for the future. The platform extends beyond the built environment and delves into policy, health, diversity, privacy, and biosecurity among others. It is designed to start conversations and promote multidisciplinary collaborations among professionals from various disciplines.

CMAA group with Ozbek, 4th of 6
CMAA student chapter leaders; Ozbek 4th from left

Ozbek’s input based on his research and expertise was incorporated into the final product, which was publicly released in February 2022. CSU students got a chance to learn more about this exciting project and interact with ASCE’s Chief Innovation Officer Jerry Buckwalter, who was the distinguished speaker at an event organized by the Construction Management Association of America and ASCE student chapters at CSU. Buckwalter is an Engineering News-Record Top 25 Newsmaker, whose vision propelled this project. This event was partially supported by the funds provided by the Joseph Phelps Chair Endowment and was well-attended by students from different programs.

“I believe that the Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair has already significantly helped me conduct meaningful and impactful teaching/mentoring, research, and service activities,” said Ozbek. “I would like to continue the momentum I have built over the last year, to continue pursuing the CM Program’s long-term goals in academia.”

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