Turning to EMDC for Technical Knowledge and Community

Damon Renieri (EMDC ‘15) explains what appealed to him about the EMDC program and how he now shares lessons he learned with current students in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Project Management (MPM) program.

Damon Ranieri has nearly a quarter century of professional experience in the construction industry. During that time, he has seen technology change the planning process for projects in countless ways.

He watched as virtual design and construction (VDC) tools and building information modeling (BIM) programs made it easier for clients to visualize a project and project managers to effectively plan the time and cost needed for completion.

In 2013, he was running his own design and construction technology consulting business, but he felt that he needed more knowledge to help himself — and the company — grow. For that, he turned to Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program.Damon Ranieri

"The program really opened my eyes to what I really had yet to learn," Ranieri said. "Everything from re-evaluating my business model to technical knowledge of building systems I hadn't yet been exposed to. EMDC gave me the insights to put me on a path to success and the network and connections to help me get there."

Ranieri (EMDC '15) went on to serve as senior BIM integration manager at Lendlease and director of virtual design and construction at Leopardo Companies. He now shares the knowledge he has gained professionally and the skills he acquired in EMDC with students in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Project Management (MPM) program, where he teaches Computer-Integrated Project Delivery.

The course leverages Ranieri's personal experiences working with consulting firms, architecture firms, general contractors, electricians, plumbers, and business owners, and gives students the chance to simulate a real construction project from concept to delivery. A goal of the course is to demonstrate to students how projects are carried to successful completion through the use of innovative technologies.

"There have been construction and design technologies developed for every phase and aspect of the AEC industry," Ranieri said, "but no technique or tool is appropriate for all phases of the building process. The class gives students a safe space to put on some of the hats for different decision makers and get their hands dirty with these tools as their class project develops."

As an educator, Ranieri’s goal is to foster an environment that leads to similar moments to the ones that meant the most to him as an EMDC student.

“My favorite part of the job is the moment you see the class project team really click – the moment when the pressure is on and you can see them really work to support each other,” he said. “This can be a hugely important experience as part of their journey at Northwestern, an experience where they are challenged to make some of the tough calls a leader in a business may have to make.”

Ranieri also emphasizes the value of networking. When he was considering EMDC, he was drawn to the network of professionals he would have access to as a student. He was inspired by his classmates — and he tries to help his students develop the same sense of community.

“There are terrific classes in EMDC, and there will be immense value in what you take away, but equally as important will be the professional relationships that will begin as a part of this program,” he said. “When I get a call from one of my fellow alumni, I immediately find a way to make time and help in any way I can.”

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