Ask an Antelope: Jared Burgoon brings industry experience to construction management program

Jared Burgoon developed his love for the construction industry at a young age.

Following in the footsteps of his father, a concrete finisher-turned-general contractor, he studied construction management at Brigham Young University and earned a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University.

Burgoon worked in the construction industry for eight years, gaining professional experience in a variety of roles, including tradesperson, estimator and purchasing manager. He also was a small-business owner and residential contractor in Memphis, Tennessee, before deciding to pursue a career in academia.

“After working for several years, I recognized my desire to teach and collaborate with others in higher education,” said Burgoon, who started teaching part time in 2016 and transitioned to full time two years later.

He was a faculty member at Colorado State University, where he earned a doctorate in education and human resources studies, prior to joining UNK. Burgoon is currently in his third year on campus, serving as an assistant professor in the construction management program.

What courses do you teach?
I teach (or have taught): Intro to Construction Management, Interpretation of Technical Documents, Construction Materials and Methods, Construction Estimating I, Construction Estimating II, Mechanical and Electrical Systems, and Construction Safety.

How does your time in the construction industry benefit you as a teacher?
These experiences have helped me develop skills and perspectives spanning a broad construction industry spectrum, including plan reading, estimating, project management, construction finance and contracts, residential construction and hands-on trades experience. In my current role, my professional experiences have proven beneficial and have allowed me to provide firsthand and real-world contexts for students as they learn to understand complex interactions across the construction industry.

What’s the biggest misconception about the construction management program?
I feel like many people hear the word “construction” and automatically picture hammer swinging or vocational education. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with mastering a craft or pursuing a craft-based education – in fact, we need more individuals doing those things – that is not what we train our students to do. Early in their careers, our graduates often have the opportunity to manage complex, multimillion-dollar projects, and this requires an in-depth understanding of building processes, interpersonal relationships and business acumen. As such, we are very much training managers focused on one of the largest industries in the world – construction.

How does the construction management program prepare students for their future careers?
Construction management students at UNK are well prepared to fulfill numerous high-demand professional roles across the construction industry. The construction management curriculum at UNK is robust, and students learn concepts relating to business management, personnel management, finance, scheduling, budgeting, design, contract management and safety. As faculty, we also meet regularly with our industry advisory board to ensure our curriculum aligns with the needs of the construction industry.

What’s the best part of your job?
The students at UNK are excellent – seriously! By and large, the students demonstrate a level of integrity and work ethic that I’ve rarely witnessed in other regions of the country. I’ve attended or taught at several quality universities across the United States, and I feel like our graduating students could go head-to-head and compete (and often outperform) professionally with graduates from any of these larger schools.

Share a fun fact about yourself:
I love meeting new people and exploring the world. In my late teens, I had the opportunity to live in Salvador, Brazil, for two years and I have suffered from “wanderlust” ever since. For the past two summers, my wife, four children and I have had the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in Guatemala and England.

I also own Adam Sandler’s old Ugg boots, T-shirt, shorts and basketball. I’m guessing I might be unique in that aspect.