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Alfred State construction is an AIC certification testing site

AIC Certification Testing Site: Alfred State College of Technology

By Roger W. Liska, EdD, FAIC, CPC, FCIOB, FRICS, PE

Today, we are recognizing the Alfred State College of Technology Department of Civil Engineering Technology as one of our long-standing AIC Certification testing sites.

This is the second in a series of articles recognizing AIC certification college and university testing sites. (Read our first article highlighting the LSU Department of Construction Management.)

These sites are being recognized for their long-term dedication to:

  • Providing their students with the opportunity to obtain the Certified Associate Constructor (CAC) professional certification.
  • Enhance the level of professionalism in the construction industry.

All of these university programs have experienced an increased level of visibility and credibility as a result of serving as a test site.

To speak to the importance of certification at Alfred State College, we talked to Ms. Erin Vitale, CPC, who serves as Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering Technology (CET), in which the Bachelor of Science in Construction Management (CM) Program is housed.

We also interviewed Sean Kempf, a senior in the CM program, and Mr. Fred Thompson, Vice President of LeChase Construction Services, who is a graduate of the Construction Management Program and a long-time member of the program’s Industry Advisory Board.

Overview of the Alfred State College Construction Management Program

Alfred State College of Technology is located in Western New York (Alfred, N.Y.) and is part of the University System of New York. The Construction Management program was developed over a number of years through input from the Curriculum Advisory Committee, as well as a two-day DACUM session.

Through input from these groups and the curriculum requirements set forth by the NYS Education Department and ETAC/ABET, the required courses for graduation were established. 

SUNY at Alfred was given approval in January 1997 by the New York State Education Department to offer a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management Technology (CMT). The Program was initially designed to be a 2 + 2 Program, and the first class of juniors entered it in August of 1997. As a 2 + 2 Program, the CMT curriculum was designed to accept graduates from AAS Degree programs in Construction, Civil, Architectural, or related curriculums. 

Beginning in the fall of 1999, students were admitted as freshmen into the Construction Management Program as a four-year program. The program has been ACCE accredited since 2002. The program still admits transfer students from closely related curriculums such as Construction Engineering Technology, Civil Engineering Technology, or Architectural Engineering Technology, as well as transfers with a variety of coursework.

The curriculum changed from Construction Management Engineering Technology to Construction Management in 2016. This move was made to comply with an ABET change moving construction management from ETAC (Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission) to ANSAC (Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission (ANSAC). 

Alfred accepted their first freshman class with the new title in Fall 2016. No changes were made to the curriculum, however. Currently, there are 100 students majoring in Construction Management at Alfred State.

CET Department’s Service as an AIC CAC Certification Examination Test Site

Alfred State’s Department of Civil Engineering Technology has been administering the CAC examination since 2011. During that time, 320 Construction Management (CM) students have been tested.

The Department administration and faculty, with support from their Industry Advisory Board (IAB), have realized the value of having their students take the exam and become certified as a critical ingredient in the growth and success of their careers in the construction industry. Thus, they require all undergraduate students to take the CAC examination, which they administer once a year, usually in the spring. The students pay all costs to take the CAC examination.

Students learn about the importance and value of professional certification and the requirement to take the CAC examination throughout their entire CM Program. While students are not required to pass the examination, their scores count for about 25% of their final grade in their capstone course – CIVL 8123, Construction Project Administration

Sean Kempf feels that the CAC exam does a good job of covering the material that the students learn about in the CM Program. He feels the major benefit to the student in passing and being awarded the CAC qualification is that “it sets one apart from their peers when seeking job opportunities.”

As for what he feels is the benefit of a CAC to the construction employer, he indicated that it helps ensure the employer not only that the individual has the skills and knowledge to be a productive employee for the company but also their capability. 

CET Department’s Commitment to Professional Certification

The Department clearly demonstrates its commitment to having all of their CM students pass the exam and become certified by dedicating both time and resources to help them to be successful.

All CM students are required to take the CAC examination. But, as stated above, they are not required to pass the exam to graduate. Students are helped to prepare for taking the examination in their senior capstone course – CIVL 8123 – in conjunction with the current class topics. The examination preparation process includes answering questions from the CAC examination preparation manual for class assignments. 

Not only does the CM Program require all students to take the CAC exam, but it also uses the resulting scores on the exam as direct measures for assessing each student’s mastery of the appropriate ACCE outcomes as part of the accreditation process.

The staff has found that this process reduces the amount of work that has to be done in preparing for future ACCE accreditation visits and provides them with a more objective (third-party) assessment of the academic performance of their students.

Erin devotes a lot of time and effort to helping improve the image of the construction profession and Constructor Certification.

“The CAC exam allows faculty to know if their students are leaving their institution with the skills the industry thinks are important,” says Erin. “In addition, it gives students that pass the exam a sense of pride and the first set of professional letters to put after their name.”

Finally, Erin “hopes this will inspire students to be the lifelong learners that the construction industry needs by continuing to add professional credentials to their name.”

Construction Industry Commitment to Having Students Become Certified

Erin indicated that her Industry Advisory Board supports their students having to take the CAC examination. She says, “The value of the CAC exam is that employers can be assured of minimum targeted competencies.”

Erin also indicated that her IAB conducts an annual Town Hall Meeting with all of the students. During this time, the students are informed that the Board supports the program’s requirement for all students to take the exam and why it is important for them to pass it and become certified, including the benefit of it serving to distinguish themselves from their peers in seeking employment.

When interviewing Fred Thompson, who is both an alumnus of the program and a long-time member of the IAB, he indicated that the Board not only conducts the Town Hall Meetings but is also interested in how the CM students perform on the examination as compared to those nationally.

The Board consistently reviews the results from the perspective of the scores and how the students performed on the individual parts of the exam. This effort helps them ascertain if there are any areas or subject matter that the students get in their studies over the four years that could be improved.

Furthermore, as new members join the Board, they are encouraged to integrate the exam into their employment interview process and employee development in their individual companies.

Fred further indicated, “Our firm, LeChase Construction Services, has a long history working alongside Alfred State, and we have been hiring graduates going all the way back to the 1960s. Quite some time ago, when the students began taking the CAC exam, we would ask the students to share their exam scores and use it as an additional gauge to compare the amount of knowledge they retained compared to their peers.

“The demand for the students at Alfred State has increased; therefore, many students have multiple job offers well before they take the CAC exam. Now, when meeting or interviewing students, we still encourage them to take the exam as it verifies their skill level and becomes a useful professional resume builder for students just getting started in the industry.”

Join Alfred State College of Technology as a University Partner

We appreciate our long-standing partnership with Alfred State College of Technology as an AIC certification testing site. They have seen tremendous benefits from partnering with our organization to embed our certifications into their Construction Management program.

We invite other accredited Construction Management programs to participate in our certification program to validate that your graduating students have the skills and knowledge necessary to manage complex construction projects in the real world.

Learn how your college or university can participate as an AIC exam testing site. It’s a great time to link up with AIC to accelerate constructor excellence.

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