Faculty Spotlight: Construction professor now builds students’ futures

Monday, June 24, 2019
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Even though he is no longer working at engineering and construction firms, Dr. Tan Qu will continue to have an influence on the developing landscape of Central Florida for years to come. Now, instead of buildings, he builds futures at Seminole State College of Florida. 

After over 20 years working in civil engineering and construction management, Qu decided he needed a change in his career and came to teach in the Wharton-Smith Center for Construction, part of Seminole State’s School of Engineering, Design and Construction. His experience gives him an understanding of what the students are working toward and what awaits them in the professional industry.

Dr. Tan Qu, professor of construction.

“I am a firm believer of project-based learning,” said Qu. “As such, all my classes entail real project-based assignments and project simulation (often team-based) where students can learn to appreciate and understand the complexity and dynamic nature of the construction projects and develop real-world problem-solving skills.” 

A longtime Central Florida resident, Qu has an extensive professional network in the area and is proud of how connected his department is to local businesses. Their connections have helped them secure over $100,000 in grant funding to build hands-on, state of the art construction labs for students. Also, the program’s industry advisory board works to closely review curriculum to make sure the students are learning practical skills that ensure they become valuable employees. 

Qu credits the high engagement between their students and their industry with helping to put their graduates’ job placement rate at nearly 100 percent. “Our popular monthly Tuesday ToolBox Talk has been such a successful venue since we started it a few years ago,” Qu said. “Students are able to directly engage the industry professionals and extend their learning beyond the classroom limits.” 

While at the College, Qu started the Design-Build Institute of America student chapter at Seminole State and serves as the faculty advisor. As a team, the students create a project and have the chance to present it to national industry professionals. Under Qu’s leadership, the Seminole State chapter won third place in 2018, outperforming teams from other well-established constructions schools including University of Florida, Auburn University and Clemson University.

According to Qu, his favorite parts of his job are working with the students, seeing their genuine desire to learn and helping them in “transforming their own, and their families, lives.” As students move through the program and onto their careers, Qu advises them to stay up to date on the latest technologies and to remember the importance of teamwork in a career field where “the success of a project is the result of many members.”

“This career field that has existed since ancient times and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, addresses many basic human needs (clean water, shelter, transportation, etc.),” Qu said. “This is also one of the most fulfilling career fields where you can see your personal contribution in shaping our built environment.” 

Interested in learning more about construction? Check out Seminole State’s Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Construction and related programs. 

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu
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About the Wharton-Smith Center for Construction

The Wharton-Smith Center for Construction, based at Seminole State College’s Heathrow Campus, offers bachelor's, associate, certificate and apprenticeship programs in construction and related fields. These programs are grounded in academic coursework, site visits and practical application of industry principles, preparing students for leadership roles in the construction industry. For more information, please visit the construction website.