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ASU Students Up at Dawn - Even on Saturdays
ASU students use technology in the field for surveying course. (Photo by Chris Aulerich)

For students of Arizona State University’s Del E. Webb School of Construction, Saturdays aren’t for sleeping late. Students in faculty associate Christopher Aulerich’s surveying courses start Saturday labs at 5 a.m. However, Aulerich’s evaluations are consistently among the highest at the School of Construction, according to Director Bill Badger. That’s because as president and owner of Brady Aulerich & Associates, Aulerich brings students into the field to use the cutting edge equipment his company uses for projects.

"When Badger called me in to look at ASU’s equipment in 1989, their equipment was from the 1960s, not what was actually being used in the industry," Aulerich says. "I offered our equipment, and he asked me to teach."

Teaching about 100 students a year means that Aulerich has taught 1,300 students in surveying, and half of those students now own construction companies.

"As vice presidents of companies, these kids think of me when they need surveying done.

My company hasn’t had to do marketing since I started teaching the classes," Aulerich says.

AULERICH (Photo courtesy of Chris Aulerich)

Aulerich teaches skills that are necessary in the general contracting industry, from reading blueprints to laying out projects. Because the prints and laying out is for real projects at Brady Aulerich & Associates, students are immediately able to do work in the field upon graduation.

"We lay out parking lots, buildings, and utilities," Aulerich says. "I try to incorporate the real world."

For Peter Trowbridge, a former student of Aulerich’s, the surveying course was the most important class he took at ASU. Now owner of general contracting company TrowTierce Precision Construction, LLC in Phoenix, Ariz., Trowbridge uses Aulerich’s company for much of his surveying needs. Although he makes students come to class at 5 a.m. on Saturdays, Aulerich isn’t always working, according to Trowbridge.

"I remember Chris would ask the students for a pack of cigarettes, and would hold it horizontally for ten seconds," Trowbridge says. "If a drop of rain fell on the pack, then class was cancelled for the day. On a Notre Dame football game day, no rain fell, but he cancelled class."

Another former student of Aulerich’s, Cal Detwiler, says that the course was one of the toughest at the School of Construction.

"Even though he’s a tougher teacher, it taught me a lot about surveying, where you can’t afford to make mistakes," Detwiler says. As a project manager at Kitchell Contractors in Phoenix, Detwiler uses Aulerich almost exclusively for surveying.

Badger says that Aulerich makes a great professor, because, "he’s young, dynamic, and loves being in front of a class. The students like getting their hands on survey equipment, and they like the high tech aspect of the work," he says. This semester, "high tech" includes a new $65,000 GPS System and an HP 48 GX Data Collector and Tripod Data System. Aulerich even donates part of his salary back to the School of Construction, according to Badger.

Aulerich has always been fascinated with land surveying and being in the field. After interning with an engineering firm at the age of 18, Aulerich spent ten years in the field and has been in management ever since. He says, "I have something where 90% of Monday mornings, I love going to work."

ASU’s School of Construction includes classes taught by 15 other faculty associates, industry professionals who also take the time to teach classes. Beyond college, Aulerich offers his students help.

He says, "I tell them I’ll help them with problems they come across, they just have to call me."


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