After working for India’s largest construction company, Manideep Tummalapudi’s educational journey led him to Colorado State University’s Department of Construction Management, where he graduated the interdisciplinary program with the School of Education to earn his Ph.D. in Education, Equity, and Transformation with a focus on Construction Management in Spring 2022.
‘My dad is my hero’
Tummalapudi is from Visakhapatnam, a tier 2 city in India, meaning it is not as densely populated as some of the larger cities in the country. His parents initially lived in a remote village but moved to Visakhapatnam in order to provide a better education for their children. One brother, Sainadh, currently resides in Arkansas working for J.B. Hunt as a software engineer in the IT department.
“My dad is my hero,” said Tummalapudi. “He struggled very much to provide quality education for me. In my early childhood, he used to walk 10 kilometers every day to his workplace, so he could afford to send me to a good school. If I am here today, it is only because of the many sacrifices my parents made for my education.”
Tummalapudi worked for India’s largest construction firm, L & T Construction, estimating for horizontal construction for approximately three years before moving forward with higher education goals in the U.S. Horizontal construction refers to projects such as roads, bridges, railways, pipelines, and waterlines. He worked multiple internships in the U.S. construction industry; he especially enjoyed and learned a lot working on construction data analytics with ProNovos Construction Intelligence, Inc., developing dynamic data visualizations for construction.
Journey to CSU
Because of his experience in horizontal construction and his interest in construction finance and becoming a faculty member, Tummalapudi saw the CM program as offering exactly what he was seeking. Adding to the perfect fit for his goals were Associate Professor Chris Harper who is focusing extensive
research efforts on horizontal construction, and Assistant Professor John Killingsworth, an expert in construction finance, along with the Ph.D. interdisciplinary program with the School of Education preparing faculty for CM education.
He credits his CM advisers, Harper and Killingsworth, and School of Education adviser, Daniel Birmingham with providing resources, guidance, and support for every professional development opportunity that came his way. They strongly influenced him, not just professionally but also in his personal life.
“They taught me how to be kind, help people, and think of benefiting the community around us through my research, teaching, and service,” said Tummalapudi. “I admire them very much and will try my best to match them and be a strong influence in my students’ lives in my own teaching career.”
Involvement and recognitions
Asked about his time as a CSU graduate student and what specifically stands out, Tummalapudi noted his involvement. He served in various capacities for the Construction Management Association of America club, student chapter, including as president from Jan 2021 to May 2022, which helped with networking, he said.
“I have received several awards during my doctoral journey,” said Tummalapudi, “one being the CMAA 2020 national scholarship, and the Outstanding Young Professional/Student award from the American Society of Civil Engineers-Construction Institute in 2021. The recognition and awards definitely helped strengthened my confidence and gave me inspiration to work much harder and to do great work.”
However, Tummalapudi said being in a class teaching and helping students succeed is his favorite highlight of his entire doctoral career. He also worked on several amazing research studies with advisers Killingsworth (economic strategies for construction firms), and Harper (National Cooperative Highway Research Program study on the construction inspection workforce), which he counts as highlights, as well.
Post-graduation, Tummalapudi is starting as a tenure-track assistant professor at a four-year university in California, beginning fall 2022. He is very excited for this position, wanting to continue to make a difference in students’ lives and carry on the legacy of his advisers and how they left a lasting impression on his life. His long-term goal is to set up a construction industry think tank/research space, and perform research in collaboration within the construction industry, helping to solve their challenges.
Advice for students
Asked what advice he has for current construction management students, Tummalapudi offered some for the two levels of students. For graduate students, he said, “Early on in the program, clearly set your goals and start working towards them. Conduct research in your desired area of choice. You have fantastic professors in the CM department that genuinely care about your success and want to help you achieve your goals. Accept their help, work hard, be nice to people and help everyone around you; build networks with both industry and academia; be sincere and committed to your academic responsibilities. I’m sure success will follow you then. Hard work always pays off.”
For undergraduate students, he offered, “Remember, you’re not learning for exams, but for your long-lasting career and life. Study every day and study hard. Be persistent. A positive attitude and attitude of leaning are of the utmost importance in our industry. So, always be positive and be curious to learn.”