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KNOXVILLE—Justin Kramer likes to build things. Perhaps, that is why he has helped lay the groundwork for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Construction Science Program. This spring, he will be the first in the university’s history to graduate with such a concentration.

Justin Kramer
Justin Kramer

“Being the first graduate in this program will be something that I will never forget and will always cherish,” Kramer said. “It has allowed me to take part in many networking opportunities that I feel privileged to have gotten to experience at my age.”

The program launched in 2010 in the Institute of Agriculture’s Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science and seeks to prepare students for the management side of the construction industry.

“Before we started this program in construction science, the only option at UT was a construction concentration within the civil engineering degree,” said Eric Drumm, department head. “But not all students with an interest in construction want to be engineers.”

Kramer is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Soil Science with a concentration in Construction Science. The business-related course work earned him a business administration minor and the skills to start his own construction company.

“This program has allowed me to follow my dreams and start my own company called Construction Innovations LLC,” he said. “It is something that this program has encouraged me to start pursuing while still in school, and I’ve actually managed to get two contracts signed for houses that I will be building as soon as I graduate.”

The concentration curriculum also has given him a multidisciplinary background with courses within the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Sciences, and Business Administration. This prepares students for careers in construction management in residential, agricultural, commercial, paving, and excavation construction areas.

“The concentration is designed to prepare students for entry into the very broad and diverse range of careers related to construction, such as project manager, estimator, supervisor, or quality control,” said Drumm.

Aaron Ross
Aaron Ross

Kramer is the first of several in the pipeline to graduate. Next up is Aaron Ross who will finish his coursework this summer. Twenty other students are enrolled in the program and plans are in the works for an articulation agreement with Pellissippi State Community College, which is expected to increase enrollment.

The program supplements the students’ classroom instruction with real-world lessons by connecting them with regional industry leaders. Students attend local chapter meetings of the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors and the Construction Specifications Institute.

The statewide construction industry has shown additional support for the program by providing adjunct instructors, endowments, and a scholarship. Still this support has only laid the program’s foundation.

“We still have much work to do to continue to grow our base of support with the goal of having a competitive, accredited program which is supported through the endowments,” said Drumm.

Kramer says he likes construction because he relishes seeing something built from the ground up. Seeing the success of this startup of program is a good way to begin his burgeoning career.

For more information on the program, visit the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science website.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,