At Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, we are proud to be home to a diverse group of forward-thinking experts who have the knowledge and on-the-ground experience to transform a variety of industries.
We had the opportunity to speak with one professional — Sree Lakshmi Buravalli — who graduated from the School of Engineering with a master of engineering in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management in 2007 and who is currently working as a Senior Project Controls Specialist at Burns & McDonnell.
Allow us to showcase this driven and passionate graduate who is using her construction management graduate degree in civil engineering to understand and solve the broad range of challenges confronting the construction industry.
What is your name, location, graduation year and current role?
My name is Sree Lakshmi Buravalli. I graduated in December 2007 with a master of engineering in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management. I am currently working as a Senior Project Controls Specialist handling EPC projects for the transmission and distribution global practice at Burns & McDonnell Houston office.
What made you think it was time to consider enrolling in the construction management program?
The construction management program covers a wide variety of concepts that can be applied to engineering and the construction industry. I had many conversations with academicians such as Dhananjaya Marpaka from Tennessee State University who gave me a high-level perspective of the industry back in 2006.
I had also spoken to several peers in the industry who provided insight into the world of project controls and construction management as a complete ecosystem. It then ended up becoming a no-brainer when I aspired only to be inducted into the best program that was local, but was also global in reputation.
Learn more about construction management as a career in our interactive resource, Is Engineering & Construction a Good Career Path?
What attracted you to Vanderbilt University's construction management program specifically?
I contacted Dr. Sanjiv Gokhale in early 2006 who gave me a thorough preview of the courses being offered, on-campus internship opportunities being presented and the career options that were being availed by graduating students from the construction management program for the preceding years. I was very satisfied and then proceeded to apply for the program. I had received admission letters from several universities, but Vanderbilt University stood out because of its reputation and beautiful campus.
What was the most challenging element of the construction management program?
Construction Law and Contracts! But surprisingly, that course has helped me the most even to this day.
What was the most exciting or eye-opening element of the construction management program?
Field trips to construction sites and the line up of internships that I felt very fortunate to pick from. I ended up with Turner Universal for well over six months and was trained on Prolog in a live environment.
How did Vanderbilt's construction management program encourage you to become a better leader in the field?
There is an element of dynamism and panache you acquire when you become a Commodore. To this day, the pride and camaraderie I feel from fellow Commodores and any competing construction management professional is unrivaled. I feel ecstatic that Vanderbilt made me a confident person (more than a professional) due to its faculty who are vested with natural mentorship abilities.
What changes have you noticed in how you lead, manage or work with others since obtaining this civil engineering graduate degree?
Leadership accrues with experience in this field, however, when I was with my first company, NC Sturgeon, in Midland, Texas, I was constantly presented with leadership opportunities by my boss. Though it was my first job, I felt confident in taking up those challenges because of the support I received from the founder, Mr. Chuck Sturgeon. It also gave me a unique perspective on how medium-sized companies operate in tough environments.
At Burns & McDonnell, my manager, Mr. Juan Arellano, constantly encouraged me to showcase my leadership abilities and mentor others. He has provided me with the pathway to success, which set me up to take challenging assignments, including international travel and training. These were traits I picked up while at Vanderbilt — accepting challenges and planning for success.
How has this civil engineering degree affected your professional opportunities?
This degree has been a great pathway opener. It is a calling card to many events, conferences and training programs. I was honored recently with a full feature on AACEI. I would love to become PMP and accrue PSP certification soon.
Please tell us about one faculty member who positively influenced your experience in the construction management program.
Dr. Sanjiv Gokhale has been an inspiration — while at Vanderbilt, and beyond. There have been many questions about companies, certifications and life in general for which he provides guidance even to this day. His achievements and humble nature are everlasting influencers for students like me. I am very sure that future generations will remember the yeoman service he has done with the Vanderbilt Engineering community and the builders of this great nation.
Pro Tip: Hear from another professional who pursued Vanderbilt University's construction management program in engineering - and how it led to a prestigious engineering career at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Earning a construction management graduate degree in civil engineering at Vanderbilt University:
In Vanderbilt University’s construction management graduate degree in civil engineering, you will engage with and learn from a collaborative community of forward-thinking experts who have the knowledge and on-the-ground experience that will propel you into a successful career.
Check out just a few of our School of Engineering’s noteworthy features:
- The Construction Industry Institute (CII) has recognized Vanderbilt's program for its outstanding curriculum and delivery of current research and best practices.
- Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering was ranked No. 39 in the 2021 annual graduate rankings by U.S. News & World Report.
- Of the graduates who sought employment, 100 percent had placement by graduation in all cohorts through May 2020.
- All graduate engineering students secure a paid internship prior to graduation.
Transform the field of engineering at Vanderbilt University School of Engineering:
You have the opportunity to advance your skill set and transform your career by pursuing a master of engineering in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management, and we hope you choose to achieve academic excellence with the Vanderbilt engineering community.