Jesús M. de la Garza

The CII Executive Committee has selected Jesús M. de la Garza (also known as “Chema”) as the ninth recipient of the Richard L. Tucker Leadership & Service Award. For nearly three decades, Dr. de la Garza’s participation on CII research teams and in CII activities have made him a model of service, both to the Institute and to the industry. His long-term commitment and his valuable contributions to the CII mission make him a particularly deserving honoree in this anniversary year.

His first experience with CII came in 1986 when he was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Working there as a research assistant for Professor C. William Ibbs, the principal investigator for Research Team (RT) 5, Determining the Impact of Various Contract Types and Clauses on Project Performance, de la Garza became familiar with CII’s unique approach and structure. It was in 1993, when he—by then an assistant professor at Virginia Tech—was selected as the principal investigator for RT 45, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, that he got an even better understanding of just how much CII had to offer its academic researchers and industry volunteers; he was particularly impressed by the tremendous energy and meaningful interaction he experienced at the annual conferences.

After the team’s report-out in 1995, he signed on for another research team, this time focused on wireless communications and computing on jobsites (Research Team 136). After another positive experience, culminating in the team’s reportout at the 1997 annual conference, de la Garza got involved in the CII leadership community, first serving as Vice-chair and later Chair of the Academic Committee, and then joining the Annual Conference Committee. Still a member of both committees, and now chairing an Academic Committee subcommittee responsible for inviting academic speakers to CII Annual Conference each year, de la Garza has returned to conducting CII research. He now serves on two research teams: RT 294, Deploying Best Practices in Unfamiliar Countries, reporting out at this year’s annual conference; and RT 311, Successful Delivery of Fast-track Projects, kicked off in June.

He is especially proud of his role in establishing the CII Best Practices Course, a real-time online course designed to show engineering graduate students how industry leaders implement CII Best Practices. Initially held at the Virginia Tech campus in 2010, and later broadcast to only a few other universities, this innovative course is now headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin and is livestreamed to 12 universities every year. Dr. de la Garza believes that, because students who take the course gain a hiring advantage from the familiarity they have with CII when they graduate, because the industry leaders who serve as guest lecturers are able to connect with the next generation of engineers, and because the course conveys the real-world importance of CII Best Practices, it offers a “win-win-win” for everyone concerned.

Dr. de la Garza credits his involvement in CII with his selection for service in other industry organizations, which include two National Research Council bodies: the Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment; and the Defense Materials Manufacturing and Infrastructure Committee. In 2010, he was elected to the National Academy of Construction, and is a member of two of its committees. He also serves on the Construction Managers Association of America Board of Directors and is Vice-chair of the organization’s academic council. A past recipient of the CII Distinguished Professor Award and the CII Curriculum Partner Award, he is also this year’s recipient of the CII Outstanding Instructor award.

Having earned his B.S. in civil engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in 1978, de la Garza worked in industry after graduation. In 1982, he decided to pursue graduate studies in civil engineering, enrolling at the University of Illinois, where he earned his M.S. in 1982 and his Ph.D. in 1988.

Winning the Tucker Award is particularly significant to de la Garza, since he has a unique connection to Richard Tucker. In 1986, Tucker received the inaugural ASCE Peurifoy Construction Research Award, which is the organization’s highest recognition for a construction academic. In 2011, 25 years later, the ASCE conferred the same honor on de la Garza. For him, to have won an award that Tucker won not long after first articulating the CII vision for the industry, and now to be winning a CII award named after Tucker is testament to the tremendous significance and continuing relevance of the CII mission.

It is with great appreciation and tremendous respect that we honor Jesús M. de la Garza for his career-long contributions to the CII mission. We look back gratefully and fondly on his 27 years of insightful research and enthusiastic leadership. Please join us in recognizing him as the 2013 recipient of the Richard L. Tucker Leadership and Service Award.