Dr. Eric Wetzel named 2017 CAUS Outstanding Doctoral Student!

     Dr. Eric Wetzel has been named the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Outstanding Doctoral Student! He successfully defended his dissertation on October 27, 2016 and completed his degree in December 2016. He is now working in the School of Building Science at Auburn University as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Prior to pursuing his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, Dr. Wetzel obtained multiple degrees related to the field of construction at diverse institutions including Western Kentucky University and Auburn University. He also spent four years working professionally in industry, which laid the groundwork for his doctoral studies and provided a strong point of departure for the leader he has become. During his tenure as a doctoral student at Virginia Tech, Dr. Wetzel showed a true passion for expanding his knowledge and skill set in a variety of areas, and has documented his work with a strong record of publications.

“I have been the assistantship supervisor, mentor, and committee chair for Dr. Wetzel since he arrived at Virginia Tech to pursue his Ph.D. in 2013. During that time, I have seen him grow as a leader, researcher, and lecturer, and have had the pleasure of working with him as he has developed, executed, and documented his doctoral research… Dr. Wetzel has a solid foundation in not just the most obvious aspects we expect of our doctoral students, but also some of the less obvious aspects that will place him a step ahead of his peers. He is self-disciplined and motivated, thoughtful, he relates extremely well to others, he never hesitates to explore possible collaborations, and displays a remarkable level of rigor in all his academic pursuits. Given the trends in today's academic environment forward transdisciplinary collaboration, I believe Dr. Wetzel will be extremely successful not only in conventional individual scholarship, but also in larger team efforts to move the construction field forward in both research and pedagogy domains.” -Walid Thabet


Dr. Wetzel has been been active in:

-Applied research in order to improve efficiency and safety for facilities management personnel.

-Collaboration with a number of university and industry professionals for data collection and validation.

-Extensive study of building information modeling (BIM), facilities management, and safety.

-Qualitative data collection and thematic analysis.

-Multiple published articles based on dissertation work.

-The publication “The use of a BIM-based framework to support safe facility management processes” has been on Automation in Construction’s “Most Downloaded Articles” list since January 2016.

-Managed two joint research efforts between Virginia Tech and industry professionals. The two projects entitled, “Building Information Modeling (BIM)

-Industry Case Study” and “BIM-Facility Management Integration,” focused on informing industry professionals on the current state of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the applications available within the software.

     Dr. Wetzel continues to push the boundaries of research in the domain of the use of building information modeling for safe facilities management in the United States. With respect to his scholarly qualities it has been a joy to serve as his dissertation committee chair and a pleasure to witness his growth as a scholar. In addition to his scholarly activities, Dr. Wetzel has actively participated in traditional teaching assistant roles typical of graduate students and in the design and implementation of other innovative learning activities, most notably including:

-Cunningham Doctoral Scholar granted by the Graduate School at Virginia Tech and Department of Building Construction.

-Aiding Dr. Walid Thabet in designing and delivering BIM modules (Autodesk Navisworks) to undergraduate students.

-Contributing to Virginia Tech’s Global Perspectives Program as both a participant and host to the University of Basel visiting the United States.

-Aided in the development and operations of the Virtual Facilities Research Laboratory (VFRL), including rebranding the lab and purchasing new hardware/software.

-Completed requirements for the Graduate School’s Future Professoriate Certificate.

     He has also given lectures on a variety of topics related to his research in both graduate and undergraduate forums at Virginia Tech. The pedagogical skills he acquired while at Virginia Tech earned him an Outstanding Teaching Award in his first semester at Auburn University. This award is voted on by the graduating seniors in the Building Science Program. He has shown positive engagement with students and has assisted their knowledge and understanding of scheduling, project management, project financing, Building Information Modeling (BIM), safety, and research. Eric is a very hard working individual and has shown tremendous level of leadership and engagement in research and scholarly work. He is a critical thinker and problem solver.

     Finally, Dr. Wetzel’s activities with regard to engagement ranged from actively supporting his home department as a graduate student to serving both the local and international community in multiple ways, including:

-Doctoral Representative for CSA. Peer elected position, representing all Ph.D. students on campus in the Graduate Student Assembly’s Commission on Student Affairs (CSA). This position is charged to study, formulate, and recommend to University Council policies and procedures affecting graduate and undergraduate student life and morale.

-Coach of 2015 First Place Student Competition team - Associated Schools of Construction.

-Providing extensive support for the 50th International Associated Schools of Construction conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by Virginia Tech.

-Member of the Building Construction Graduate Advisory Panel, created to aid faculty in the development of the Building Construction graduate program at Virginia Tech.

-Myers-Lawson School of Construction Peer Mentor to first year graduate students (M.S. and Ph.D.), providing assistance with cultural adjustments, program advisement, and professional development.

-Hokie Helper volunteer, helping undergraduate students move into their dorm rooms at the start of the fall and spring semesters.

     About Dr. Wetzel’s service and leadership qualities demonstrated by his engagement, one of his faculty mentors phrased it this way:

“Eric was always a strong contributor every time I asked for student input and contributions to the graduate program, including serving as a mentor for incoming students, helping with orientation and potluck activities, serving on the student advisory panel for the program, and pretty much any other thing I needed help with. I know he also regularly volunteered to help new students move into their dorms at the start of the school year, which I thought was cool. Certainly a solid student who did some very nice things while he was here!”