Wang brings teaching, professional experience to new role

With professional experience in industry and 13 years teaching at East Carolina University, Dr. George Wang has been named the chair of the Department of Construction Management.

Wang was born in Tianjin, China, and obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering from Tongji University. He taught civil engineering at Tianjin University in China and later obtained his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Wollongong in Australia. He then worked for 12 years as an engineer and project manager in private industry. Still, the thought of teaching was never far from his mind.

“Being a teacher was my ideal when I was young,” Wang said.

He said he felt a responsibility to pass on the industry experience he had gained.

As new department chair, Wang believes teamwork among students, staff and faculty will lead to success for all.

“I felt I was obligated to pass on my knowledge gained from schools and especially real projects to students, the next generation of project managers,” Wang said. “This is important, as all our country’s infrastructure will become reality from blueprints from their hands.”

He accepted a position to teach at ECU in 2007.

“ECU was in transition from a traditional teaching university to a research university, which brought lots of opportunities,” Wang said of his decision to come to Greenville. “I had opportunities to develop new courses, lead study abroad programs, pursue research projects and publish research results.”

As an example, Wang led research on the possible use of recycled concrete for new N.C. Department of Transportation construction projects.

As the new chair of the department, he wants to continue faculty research that will include students. He stresses excellence in teaching and advising and working with each student personally. He believes teamwork among students, staff and faculty will lead to success for all.

Wang is interested in creating new endowments and scholarships for students, and creating additional industry internships, study abroad projects, construction site visits, and workshops and webinars that feature guest speakers from industry.

“People in the region, state and the country will see an excellent construction management program in the center of the East Coast,” Wang said.

At the heart will be student success, Wang said, using classrooms, labs and field studies to present the latest technologies and innovations to students to help them prepare for careers.

“Students can learn in and out of classrooms — beyond textbooks — including honesty, integrity, professionalism and true value,” he said. “Students should use every opportunity to learn leadership skills that will have positive impacts to their future careers and lives, the way they think and act, as active lifetime learners.”

Wang said industry partnerships are an important part of successfully educating ECU students, and he plans to grow these as chair.

“We have common goals here — to jointly nurture the next generation of the country’s constructors,” Wang said. “We should realize the importance of the department to industry and the role industry needs to play in moving the department to the next level. With industry’s support, we can make student learning more colorful and rewarding.”

Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, said Wang’s experience in industry and in education makes him well qualified to lead the Department of Construction Management (CMGT).

“Dr. Wang brings two essential elements to this position — a deep, heartfelt commitment to the success of every CMGT student, and passion and drive for excellence needed to strategically lead the program forward,” Ploehn said. “Dr. Wang is eminently qualified to serve as the chair of the Department of Construction Management, and I am especially happy to have him on the college’s leadership team.”

Wang embraces the history of the program, which was established in 1985 and became the first accredited construction management program in North Carolina. Wang will guide the department through its next American Council for Construction Education reaccreditation in 2022. Graduates of the department, one of the largest in the country, find a variety of jobs within industry, many with eastern North Carolina companies.

“The department has well-established programs, developed in the last 35 years,” Wang said. “We have diversified faculty, supportive academic advisors, and a large student body and student organizations. We have equipped labs and support staff. We have a strong Industry Advisory Board consisting of a select group of industry senior executives to guide department goals. I can see opportunities are there to realize our great goals only if we grasp the opportunity. All of these make me enjoy working.”