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Jennifer Macks discusses the evolution of construction in 2021 Harris Lecture

Macks’ lecture covered changes in the construction industry over the course of her career.

Jennifer Macks presented the Robert B. Harris Lecture on Thursday, November 4, on the topic of “My Career Epochs: Learning and Leading through the Evolution of Construction.” Macks is a Senior Project Executive at Gilbane Building Company and an alum of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (B.S.E.Civ’94).

Macks is a construction executive with over 27 years of experience in all aspects of project delivery specializing in the planning and execution of projects in complex delivery models. In addition to her civil engineering degree from the University of Michigan, she also holds an MBA from Wayne State University. She is a Professional Engineer, Design-Build Designated Professional and LEED Accredited Professional.

Professor Photios Ioannou, Jennifer Macks, Professor and Donald Malloure Department Chair Jerome Lynch

She is currently a Senior Project Executive at Gilbane Building Company, one of the largest privately held family-owned construction firms in the industry. In this role, she oversees projects in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, and runs a corporate initiative focused on design-build, modular and refabrication implementation on projects throughout the country.

In her lecture, Macks talked about her career journey, work-life balance, and the technological and workforce changes the construction industry has seen over the course of her career so far. She also spoke broadly about building strong teams and maintaining good team culture. 

“I spend a lot of time with my project teams making sure they have excitement for what they’re doing. This is a really cool industry, so I want them to feel excited and feel like they have the tools to be successful,” said Macks.

Macks is past president of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Friends Association (CEEFA), as well as a past member of the College Board of Governors and Construction Industry Alliance Program. She has been recognized by the University with the Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Society Merit Award, was made a Chi Epsilon Chapter Honorary Member in 2011, and was the Alumni Society Recent Engineering Graduate in 2003.

The Robert B. Harris Award and Lecture was established by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in honor of Robert B. Harris, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan from 1947 to 1987. In 1954, Harris led the establishment of the first graduate program in Construction Engineering and Management (CE&M) at the University of Michigan. He played a significant role in the development and advancement of the CE&M field throughout the United States and internationally.


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Mason Hinawi

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering