Jesús M. de la Garza, a Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering, is the first recipient of the Vecellio Professorship of Construction Engineering and Management. He is nationally and internationally known for his research and scholarly works related to project control and the use of information technology in construction management.
In 2001, members of the Vecellio family donated $1 million to the College of Engineering to establish the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program. The gift established the position of Vecillio Professorship in Construction and Engineering Management housed in the Via Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE). This endowed gift also provides funding for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and an annual distinguished lecture series.
In 1988, de la Garza joined the CEE Department after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since then, he has procured nearly $4.5 million in external research funding to study a variety of construction-related topics, many linked to highway construction and infrastructure-rehabilitation issues. He has also advised nearly 35 graduates in masters and doctoral research studies.
In 1998, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter honored de la Garza with the Faculty of the Year Award and he received the ASCE Best Paper Award from the Technical Council on Computer Practices for the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering. In 1992, he received ASCE's Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize, given to papers describing accomplished works of construction that are valuable contributions to construction management and construction engineering.
Teaching and research areas of interest for de la Garza include construction planning and scheduling, concurrent engineering, modeling and simulation of maintenance policies for highway infrastructure, condition assessment of highway infrastructure assets, and design-construction integration. Some of the major organizations he has conducted research for include the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Swedish National Road Administration, and the Construction Industry Institute. He has authored or co-authored over 80 publications about his research.
Several of the Vecellio family members are graduates of Virginia Tech, beginning with the late Leo Vecellio, Sr. He was a 1938 civil engineering graduate who became president and chief executive officer of Vecellio & Grogan, a construction firm he co-founded with his father, Enrico Vecellio, and brother-in-law, Eugene Grogan. Vecellio & Grogan grew substantially over the years to become the flagship company of the Vecellio group, a family of contracting firms that today ranks among the largest heavy/highway construction firms in the nation, with more than 1200 employees, and headquarters in Beckley, W. Va., and in West Palm Beach, Fl. Leo Vecellio, Jr., a 1968 civil engineering graduate, now heads the Vecellio Group.