Contributed by Jon Lattin
“Let’s Build Careers! We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.” Michelle Obama (at the National Science Foundation Family-Friendly Policy Rollout September 26, 2011)
With less than 10% of the construction workforce comprised of women, and construction related jobs on the rise, now is the time to take action. Last summer I was reading an article about women in construction and it talked about an innovative camp that trained high school girls in the construction trades. The ultimate goal of these camps is to introduce young girls to the construction opportunities in front of them. Having young daughters of my own, this inspired me to work with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chapter of CSI and the Eastern PA Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to start our own camp.
“The future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt
With over 30 committee members that span the Lehigh Valley construction community, we are hosting the inaugural Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls in June. From our research, the other camps of this kind seemed to be only trades based. However we are CSI, so we made the decision to include all aspects of the AEC industry. The Let's Build Construction Camp is a free week-long camp for girls aged 14-18 to explore the construction trades, architecture, engineering, and construction manufacturing through hands on experiences and field trips. (editor: for a sample preliminary schedule, please click here)
“Motivation is what gets you started. Commitment is what keeps you going.”
This endeavor has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever participated in. The Let’s Build planning committee exceeds 30 professionals from all over the AEC spectrum, with 75% of the committee being women. From project managers to architects, building manufacturers to subcontractors, and from educators to general contractors. Everyone involved with Let’s Build is passionate about making this camp a success and committed to making this the most rewarding experience for twenty lucky girls this summer.
To learn more about the Let’s Build camp, please visit www.letsbuildcamp.com. As of Friday, May 19th, the new application deadline is now Friday, June 2nd and only 20 Applicants will be selected. The application consists of contact information, a detailed statement why the applicant wants to be a part of this camp, and at least one letter of reference.
After this great event, we look forward to reporting back on our successes in July, so stay tuned! We'll let you know about the activities, successes and lessons learned. Maybe we can get CSI Chapters across the country to pick up this charge and host similar events?!
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Whether an emerging professional, new to your company or new to your position, personal advancement through a professional certification is a tremendous asset in more ways than one.
In the construction industry, the certifications through the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) carry weight with many of the major players of a project – the owner, the architect, the general contractor, product representative or construction manager.
CSI’s Construction Documents Technologist (CDT) program is the prerequisite to CSI’s advanced Certifications: Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA); Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) and Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR).
Whether you are new to the construction industry or a 50 year veteran, the CDT program can and will help you with an overall building project. If you find yourself lost in a 1500 page, 32 division project manual, the CDT can help you understand where to find what you are looking for and just how that project unfolds from conception to delivery.
I can tell you first hand how much attaining the CDT has assisted me in my job. Before I started attending my CDT study group many years back, I focused mainly on Division 9 of architectural specifications, where you can find the sport flooring that I represent. Week after week of studying and learning from the (now former) Project Resource Manual, my eyes were opened to just how much broader of a scope a project is. From project conception right through to commissioning, I was able to more thoroughly understand all of the facets and parties involved.
The time has come to register for the Spring cycle of CSI certification. You can register now here. You are never alone when you work with CSI, either. Whether a member or a CDT test taker, fellow CSI members like myself are always there to help. Through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or the tried and true phone call, we’re always glad to help.
David Stutzman, CSI, CCS from Conspectus. “What was my first project after graduating college with an architectural degree? A prominent design? No, measuring and documenting 65 existing buildings at Letterkenny Army Depot; calculating energy savings; estimating construction costs; and finally writing the project specifications using the Corps of Engineers master specs.”
Liz O’Sullivan, CSI, CCS, CCCA: “There’s SO MUCH to learn – all of us in the construction industry are constantly learning (or should be). Much of this knowledge can ONLY be gained through experience, but not all of it has to be.A really good way to learn about how your documents may be interpreted by the users is to prepare for a CSI certification exam, starting with the CDT (Construction Documents Technologist) exam.” Read Liz’s blog: https://lizosullivanaia.com/
Tara Imani, CSI: “I’m also a CSI CDT; meaning I took the time 111 years ago, to understand how a good legal set of contract documents are put together and administered.So, as you can tell, I have a lot of education but it’s all because I thought it was important to broaden my understanding of this complex industry at that time in my career; I didn’t do it to add initials after my name!” Read Tara’s blog: http://www.indigoarchitect.com/
Randy Nishimura, AIA, CSI, CCS: "Passing the CDT examination means you have become fluent with construction project processes and communication. It means you’ve demonstrated professional commitment, credibility, and reliability to your employer, colleagues, and clients. Obtaining CDT status benefits you, your company, and your customers. Getting your CDT also means acquiring the privilege to add “CDT” after your name on your business card and resume." Read Randy's blog here: http://sworegonarchitect.blogspot.com/
Registration is open until Mid-March. Head over to www.csiresources.org/certification/csi-certification to sign up.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
(Editors Note on January 11: Deadline extended to January 17th to submit your presentation)
From the first post in August 2016, one of the core beliefs of 'Let's Fix Construction' has been the open sharing of knowledge. Whether acquired in a classroom setting, from a trusted mentor, or learned directly in the field, what good is having facts, informationa and skills if it is not freely and willingly shared with others?
Year after year, there is one place in construction where all members of the project team: specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, product representatives, manufacturers, owners and others converge to acquire and share industry knowledge: CONSTRUCT. The Construction Specifications Institute annual meeting and affiliated tradeshow hosts dozens of project team instructors who share their acquired knowledge to attendees who are there to learn and absorb new information.
Now is your chance to share your knowledge and turn what you’ve learned into a unique presentation that will help improve the construction community. Consider submitting a Call for Presentations proposal for CONSTRUCT 2017, which is taking place on September 13-16 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI.
CONSTRUCT welcomes compelling proposals that address a wide range of topics relevant to the commercial building team and those who design, build, specify, engineer, renovate and operate in the built environment. With over 40 accredited sessions and non-conflicting exhibit hall hours, the education program is an integral part of the CONSTRUCT event experience for specifiers, architects, designers, product reps, contractors, engineers, project managers, and other industry professionals.
The deadline for submitting a proposal is approaching fast on January 17, 2017. Have a topic in mind for CONSTRUCT? Now is the time to pitch your fix!
For more information about the submission process, visit
Session proposals must be submitted via the automated submission form at
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
One of the goals of Let’s Fix Construction is to bring common problems in Architecture, Engineering and Construction to the table for positive and collaborative discussion and solutions. We have complained long enough. It’s time to start fixing things.
In my humble opinion, the best way to fix something is to learn what you don’t know. Often problems are perpetuated simply because we lack a piece of the puzzle and, because nobody tells us, we keep repeating the same mistakes.
The issue that I would like to address today has driven me crazy for years. What’s worse is that it is a relatively easy fix. But, we are not fixing it.
If you don’t already know me, a quick background: I have worked in AEC for 30 years – In Architecture, Engineering AND Construction. This wide-ranging experience in our industry has been a gift in that I have been able to see the process from many different sides. Add to that a heavy involvement in the Construction Specifications Institute (No, they are not only about specs!) and I feel uniquely qualified to write this blog.
There is a commonality in AEC, no matter what discipline in which you work. Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Manufacturing, Product Reps, Owners, etc. That commonality is project delivery processes and contract administration. It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to know the project requirements, risks, roles and responsibilities. Period. No question about it. No brainer.
But, guess what? Very few in relation to the whole of our industry have this knowledge. WHAAAAAT? How in the world do you work on a project and not know this? Ummmm, we are all over the place.
Let me ask you a few questions:
Can you answer these questions? Seriously, I could go on for hours listing the things that many don’t know.
The important point here is that the items above and many more affect every one of you on a project, I don’t care who you are. You can’t possibly efficiently and effectively do your job without having this knowledge. Your level of risk skyrockets if you don’t know the contractual requirements of your project (or at a minimum where to look for them) and your efficiency plummets. In a “time is money” business, this is unacceptable.
Now, you might be thinking something like ‘This if for the powers-that-be to understand.’ That is flawed thinking. Very, very flawed.
Contributed by Randy Nishimura
Change is a constant in architecture and construction. If anything, the pace of this change is accelerating. We all struggle to keep up with the latest developments in an effort to remain competitive. Our success is contingent upon how quickly we adapt in an environment buffeted by forces largely beyond our control. Survival of the fittest is a maxim always in play.
If there is another constant in our industry it is the importance of clear, concise, correct and complete construction documentation and communications. Architecture and construction are increasingly dependent upon the effective conveyance of design intent. They are likewise dependent upon the clear definition of project responsibilities and roles detailed by the forms of agreement most widely used in construction projects. It’s important and necessary for everyone — owners, architects, engineers, specifiers, general contractors, subcontractors, construction materials suppliers, and others — to understand project delivery options, standard forms of agreement, means for organizing drawings and specifications, etc.
Change and the Four C’s of construction documentation are not incompatible. A key to managing the former and mastering the latter is knowledge, specifically fluency with the lingua franca of our industry. Knowledgeable employers highly value those who understand the language of construction, its underlying principles and terminology, and the critical relationships between all the participants in any design and construction undertaking. Employees who thoroughly understand this language not only survive but are more likely to thrive. They are the winners in today’s challenging and constantly changing environment.
So, how can you demonstrate your construction knowledge and competence? How can you stand out in the crowd? One of the best ways is to achieve CSI's Construction Documents Technologist (CDT) status.
The Construction Specifications Institute developed the CDT program decades ago to provide training in construction documentation for architects, contractors, contract administrators, specifiers, and manufacturers’ representatives. Since then, it has become the cornerstone for all of CSI’s certification programs, which presently include Certified Construction Specifier (CCS), Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), and Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR).
Passing the CDT examination means you have become fluent with construction project processes and communication. It means you’ve demonstrated professional commitment, credibility, and reliability to your employer, colleagues, and clients. Obtaining CDT status benefits you, your company, and your customers. Getting your CDT also means acquiring the privilege to add “CDT” after your name on your business card and resume.
In some respects, I regard the value of the CDT as analogous to that of a liberal arts degree, in that both provide a foundation for more advanced learning. I became a CDT back in 1989, and subsequently achieved Certified Construction Specifier status a couple of years later. There’s no doubt in my mind that studying for and passing both examinations has served me very well professionally. What I learned provided me with a solid knowledge base I’ve relied upon throughout my career. I know I’m a much better architect than I might have been without the benefit of what I learned through those two certification programs. I truly believe this knowledge equipped me with the ability to better cope with the accelerating changes in our industry by ensuring I first thoroughly grasped the time-tested fundamentals of construction documentation and communications.
I highly encourage any of you who are simply curious about CDT certification to seriously consider learning more about its value. Ask others besides me who have become CDTs. Or check out CSI’s YouTube channel for informational webinars about its certification programs. The webinars provide more information than I have shared here. Each webinar covers the requirements and resources needed for successful exam preparation and study. Many local CSI chapters also offer educational courses to help those interested prepare for the examinations.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Knowledge provides a competitive edge. Give your knowledge about construction documents and communication a boost by becoming a Construction Documents Technologist. The true value of CDT certification is beyond calculation—it’s priceless.
(Editors note: the next testing window for CDT & advanced certification will be Spring of 2017)
Let's Fix Construction is a collective group of construction professionals who want to better the industry by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating and encouraging collaboration.
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