Auburn Family

The Evolution of Auburn Building Science

Brian Knowles graduated from Auburn in 1984 and majored in building science. This was over 25 years ago, and back then, students were not learning the same technological skills that modern day building science students are learning.



“It’s truly amazing how much the industry has changed in 25 years,” said Knowles.


Throughout history and up until the last 25 to 30 years, all design drawings and renderings were done by hand by master builders, architects, engineers, and draftsmen. Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been around for over 20 years. This technology allowed much of the design work to be completed using a computer.


The technology has evolved significantly, making it much more effective and productive than it was at first. Three dimensional design and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are becoming more and more prevalent in the industry today. These programs allow designers to build the project on paper and get many of the potential problems out of the design before it is implemented on the construction site.


Knowles is the branch office manager of the Turner Construction Huntsville division.


His daily job duties include prospecting for new project opportunities, preparing proposals and presentations, maintaining client relationships, overseeing ongoing project operations from a high level, volunteering in the community and providing leadership for Huntsville office activities.


When he takes business trips, each one has a unique purpose. For instance, this week he is traveling to Charleston, S.C. to work with his Boeing project staff on project closeout planning. Then on the way back he is stopping in Atlanta for a day to meet with a prospective new client.


Many of his trips are to coordinate business development efforts with other Turner offices. Next week he will be traveling to Chicago for about two days of training.


“I usually try to work out while on business trips so I always bring my gym clothes,” said Knowles.


The Boeing 787 Project in Charleston, S.C., which consists of many buildings on a 180 acre campus, is in the finishing phases. Boeing assumed occupancy of the primary building in May of this year. Knowles and his co-workers will turn over the final building in November. Once completely finished, the Boeing assembly plant will be big enough to house eight football fields.


"The coolest thing I have ever been directly involved with is the Boeing 787 Project, but the coolest thing my company has ever built is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai," said Knowles. "It is currently the world's tallest building at 2,717 feet tall and has 160 stories."


Scott Sims is currently majoring in building science and is getting a construction management degree here at Auburn. He enjoys the hands-on learning aspect of the program.


“We’re exposed to a lot of concepts and technology that we will encounter in the field,” said Sims.


He enjoys using BIM which is a 3-D computer software program that allows users to model a building from the blueprints.


After graduation, Sims hopes to remain in the Southeast and would like to eventually become a project manager.

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Tags: CarlyKnowles, building, careers, college, science


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