With more rapid infrastructure expansion on the way engineering colleges are producing better trained personnel to meet the building demand.
Nepal, which has remained infrastructure deprived for decades, has been observing a slew of both public and private sector construction activities in recent years. Construction projects in energy, connectivity and irrigation have been gathering noticeable momentum along with other infrastructures like residential housing, apartments with commercial buildings, hospitals and hotels.
The rise in construction has also led to a rise in the demand for qualified and skilled construction managers with both technical and management skills. The Master of Science in Construction Management (M.Sc-CM) degree run by engineering colleges affiliated to Tribhuvan University and Pokhara University is making an attempt to churn out the qualified personnel. Both universities say they introduced the course to produce managers with the knowledge and expertise to effectively execute construction work.
“We prepare the human resource for the overall contribution in nation development,” mentions Prof Dr Khem Raj Sharma, Director of Nepal Engineering College, Center for Postgraduate Studies (NEC-CPS).
NEC affiliated to Pokhara University started the internationally accredited course first in 1999. The college which recently admitted this year’s intake received applications from over 200 hundred students for just 30 seats. “The number of students wanting to enroll is increasing,” he says.
The programme focuses on developing the social and developmental outlook of students enhancing their skills in analysis, decision making, implementation, leadership and communication. According to Sharma, the programme teaches students about the integrated fundamentals of construction management with real life applications. A market-driven course with flexibility in a competitive learning environment, are the main features of the programme.
The TU affiliated Institute of Engineering (IOE) has also been running the programme since 2011. Prof Dr Rabindra Nath Cheesy, Programme Coordinator of M.Sc (CM) at IOE says that the institute started the programme to prepare managers who can effectively lead construction projects. “The demand for professionals in construction management is high in the country.”
Besides NEC and IOE, Lumbini Engineering College, Rupendehi, Pokhara Engineering College, Pokhara have also been offering similar programmes.
“M.Sc. in Construction Management is designed to bring corporate changes in the construction sector by enhancing the capabilities of students to make them competent construction managers, executives and entrepreneurs,” says Sharma. According to him, NEC has been employing a range of teaching methods that include on-campus learning through classroom discussions, presentations, group work, case analysis and guest lecturer series and off-campus learning through research project works.
The course is designed with a focus on both technical and management aspects of construction. The first semester is focused on developing the foundation required by learning the core and functional areas and narrative courses. The two-year postgraduate programme is divided into four semesters with a thesis at the end.
The first semester studies Project Planning and Control, Human Resource Management, Statistical Analysis, Professional Ethics and Liability in Construction and Economics for Construction Managers. Similarly, Construction Policies, Environment and Law, Financial Management, Construction Project Management, Management of Construction Plant and Equipment and Elective I are taught in the second semester. Likewise, the third semester includes Construction Project Engineering and Administration, Construction Safety Engineering, Research Methodology, Construction Management in Developing Countries and Elective II. Meanwhile, the fourth semester is all about thesis preparation and presentation.
The Elective I includes IEE and EIA, GIS, Operation Research, Concrete Technology and Bridge Inspection and Maintenance Engineering while Elective II consists of Water Resource Engineering, Mountain Risk Engineering, Conservation Management, Hydropower Systems and Management and Power Plant Systems.
The M.Sc (CM) has huge scope as urbanisation and infrastructural development increases rapidly across the country. Graduates can advance their careers in government departments such as water supply and sanitation, urban development, roads and irrigation alongside housing companies.
According to Sharma, former CM students are working in government and non-government organisations and some are even working abroad. Sharma says that NEC has graduated more than 500 CM students till date. He informs that some students are pursuing their PhDs abroad as well.
Graduates from civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, geotechnical engineering, hydropower engineering and architecture are eligible to apply for the programme. Students need to secure a minimum CGPA of 2.0 or 45 percent at Bachelor’s level from a recognised university. The applicants also need to take an entrance exam to enroll in the course.
NEC holds admissions twice a year during the fall and spring. For this year’s fall intake, NEC recently started classes, while for the spring intake the college will open admission in June/July. The college admits 30 students in one intake. Sharma cites high demand as the reason for opening the biannual admission. Meanwhile, IOE’s intake for 20 seats occurs once a year.
At NEC 20 percent of the seats available are reserved for female students. The college also provides an extra 20 marks in the entrance exam for students who have work experience in related fields.
The whole programme at NEC costs Rs 369,500 where Rs 10, 000 is refundable. Similarly, it costs around Rs 200,000 to complete the M.Sc (CM) at IOE and the college charges Rs 400,000 for the sponsored quota.
Pokhara University holds separate exams for scholarships for three students. Meanwhile, at IOE out of 20 seats six students are required to pay full fees while eight students are from sponsorships, five are merit based and one from the IOE reserved quota.
Most of the colleges run classes for the degree in the evening. “Since most of the students are job holders and that is the reason why we run classes from 5:30 pm to 9 pm in the evening,” says Narayan Dhakal, Administrator at Lumbini Engineering College.