Air Force veteran takes helm of construction science department

Patrick Suermann is the new head of the Department of Construction Science.

Patrick Suermann, who led numerous, large-scale military construction projects around the world and excelled as an educator during a distinguished 20-year career as a U.S. Air Force officer, is the new head of the Texas A&M [Department of Construction Science] ( .

He replaces Joe Horlen, whose accomplishments include spearheading fund-raising efforts for a $10 million renovation of Francis Hall, the department’s new campus headquarters, and significantly expanding the department’s industry advisory council.

“Suermann’s extensive industry and academic experience will build on the foundation laid during Horlen’s decade of leadership and guide the department to the highest level of excellence,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture. “He is singularly qualified to lead all facets of the department’s endeavors, including its engagements with its many industry partners.”

A 2003 Texas A&M [Master of Construction Management] ( graduate, Suermann also earned a Ph.D. in Design, Construction, and Planning at the University of Florida in 2009 and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1997.

“I am honored to lead the best construction science program in the country,” said the retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who was drawn back to Texas A&M after attending an April 2015 Associated Schools of Construction Conference hosted by the department.

An associate professor of civil engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy at the time of his visit, Suermann said he marveled at the department’s culture of excellence, exemplified by its Francis Hall facilities and by its former students’ prominent roles in the $450 million renovation of Kyle Field.

Before concluding his military career this year, Suermann served as chief of emergency services and engineering at an Air Force mission support center in San Antonio, where he coordinated more than 700 personnel while managing $16 billion in fire emergency services, emergency management and explosive ordnance disposal projects around the world.

On a seven-month assignment in Afghanistan, he oversaw 17 military and civilian contractors on a $1 billion facilities construction program that included building an airfield in a combat zone with the help of almost 1,000 Afghan nationals.

He also served for a year at the Air Force’s most remote station, Thule Air Base in Greenland, where he supervised more than 500 military and civilian personnel who provided engineering, medical, communication, logistics and airfield operations.

"Suermann has the rare ability to lead a diverse group of individuals, motivate them, and inspire them to excel,” said Chistopher Senseney, one of his former colleagues and an assistant professor of engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He flourished in the Air Force, Senseney added, because he is a natural leader.

At the Air Force Academy, Suermann taught building information modeling, computer-aided design, construction processes, project delivery and civil engineering.

His numerous teaching honors include a 2016 Region VI Award from the Associated Schools of Construction and a 2006 Outstanding Educator Award from the Air Force Academy.

Suermann has lectured at Texas A&M, the University of Florida and the University of Texas, and coached successful student teams from all three institutions and the Air Force Academy in Associated Schools of Construction competitions.

He is married to Megan Kouns Suermann, the founding principal of Brain Bridge Applied Behavior Analyst Services. She is a former Navy lieutenant and the first female Navy officer commissioned at The Citadel. They have three children: Drew, Isabelle and Jack.

Richard Nira

posted September 1, 2017