The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) student chapter held its 22nd annual symposium at USC’s Town and Gown on Nov. 3. This year’s topic, the third in a five-part Mega Projects series, was “Constructing the Future of Healthcare.”
Speakers discussed how the needs of physicians and researchers shape construction projects in terms of both building design and technological requirements. In order to keep hospitals up-to-date as new medical devices are developed, construction companies are constantly renovating or building new structures, working within the regulations provided by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).
The event followed last year’s focus on “Los Angeles World Airports Modernization,” and the previous year’s subject of “Rebuilding the World Trade Center.” After a presentation by the keynote speaker and a panel discussion, the event culminated with student scholarship awards.
“It’s a symposium I started 22 years ago and turned over to the students,” said Hank Koffman, faculty advisor to the group and professor of engineering practice for the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “My wife catered the first one. That’s how we started—humble beginnings.”
This year, nearly 200 construction industry professionals from throughout Southern California attended, as well as USC students and faculty, including Executive Vice Dean for Engineering John O’Brien and Sonny Astani Department Chair Lucio Soibelman.
The symposium allows students to learn from and network with experienced industry members, as well as serves as the chapter’s main source of fundraising. Themes are selected by the group’s executive board and reflect current events in construction.
“In selecting topics, we try to focus on construction industries that are going through rapid change and/or growth,” said Sam Kinsey, CMAA symposium co-chair and junior civil engineering student. “Healthcare is one such industry, with lots of new construction in the works, plus organizational changes as the industry adapts to recent legislature such as the Affordable Care Act.”
Keynote speaker Lloyd Silberstein, VP and executive director of USC Capital Construction and Facilities Management, began his talk by describing the state of construction at the USC Health Sciences Campus and the effect of new medical technologies on development. For example, with the rise in the number of outpatient surgeries performed, he expects there to be a reallocating of bed space currently used for inpatient stay. Each year, his group oversees around 100 projects, which led to 26 percent growth at USC in four-years.
The panel of industry experts included Ivan Caso, director of southern California construction management for Kaiser Permanente; Sean Collins, director of facilities planning, design and construction for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Health Systems; and Edward Avila, principal for HMC Architects; with Sonny Astani Department Lecturer Edward Reynolds as the moderator.
The group discussed the evolution of work flow in construction projects, current issues with space and the need for phased renovations, working with governing bodies like OSHPD and the effect of the Affordable Care Act on development.
At the end of the event, five scholarship winners were announced, receiving award money raised entirely by the symposium’s fundraising. To be considered, students must be a member of CMAA, shown academic excellence and have a passion for construction.
Underclassman winners were Kristen Briggs and Jordan Leake, each receiving $2,000, upperclassman winners were Steve Pokwo and Saina Vosoghi, receiving $4,000 each, and the master’s student winner was Rana Kashani, who received $3,000. All recipients are civil engineering majors at USC Viterbi.
“I believe it is an extremely amazing opportunity for students to network with companies,” said Isabela Arce, CMAA chapter president and senior civil engineering student. “Being able to sit down with a company and have dinner with them is something that the students will never get to do anywhere else.”