Jeong takes construction industry forward with IT advances

David JeongHyung Seok “David” Jeong, who joined the College of Engineering as associate professor in CCEE in August, believes construction engineering is facing a huge leap forward in the 21st century as the industry learns to take advantage of innovations in information technology.

“The rapid IT advancements in data collection methods, digital data storage technologies, and database management systems are contributing to huge growth in our capability to both generate and store project data. This change requires us to think fundamentally differently in planning, managing, and delivering construction projects, and it creates a huge opportunity,” says Jeong.

Jeong’s research demonstrates that trend by discovering the meaningful relationship between data collection, information generation, and decision making throughout the life cycle of the project.

In a project he considers the most rewarding of his career, Jeong and his research team formulated a structured model to explain the aging pattern of water and wastewater pipelines.

“Just like highways and other civil infrastructure systems, these linear underground infrastructure assets are suffering from deterioration and aging. Utility organizations desperately need a guide and a tool to effectively intervene the aging process to extend the life of these assets and provide satisfactory service to their customers,” says Jeong.   “Some of the earlier models developed in the past did not pay attention to what utility agencies really need.”

In another project, for which he earned a 2010 Construction Industry Institute Outstanding Researcher of the Year Award, Jeong conducted a nationwide study of competencies for construction estimators. The first-of-its-kind study analyzed the gap between current and desired competencies.

“The results showed that estimating competencies involve more than reading drawings, quantity take-off, number crunching, and spreadsheets; rather, the research made it clear that estimators need to possess a combination of skills, knowledge, and personal attributes,” says Jeong. “Because the team’s research products address the projected shortage of field estimators with practical guidance on career development for estimators, our work stands to make a crucial and enduring contribution to the industry.”

Before he joined Iowa State, Jeong was an associate professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oklahoma State University. During his seven years as an assistant and associate professor, he earned several top awards, including the 2007 Chi Epsilon Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

“Receiving that award was especially rewarding to me because it is determined by a group of academically outstanding civil engineering students,” says Jeong. “The most enjoyable part about interacting with students is when they challenge me and when they ask me something I have never thought about. Those questions have always been good motivators for me to stay current on course topics and enrich course materials.”

Jeong earned a PhD and MS in civil engineering with a construction engineering and management concentration from Purdue University in 2005 and 2001, respectively. He also attained a BS in agricultural engineering with a civil engineering emphasis from Seoul National University (Korea) in 1994. In addition to civil engineering studies, Jeong has also earned a graduate certificate in applied management principles from Purdue University.