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Robert Tener, P.E., Ph.D., DBIA

Dr. Robert TenerThe Design-Build Institute of America is pleased to announce that the 2012 recipient of the Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award is Dr. Robert K. Tener, P.E., Ph.D., DBIA. Dr. Tener has dedicated his career to serving his country, his industry and the next generation of construction and engineering professionals.

The Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor DBIA can bestow. It is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the design and construction industry through outstanding leadership and the advancement of integrated design-build project delivery. Each recipient of this award has demonstrated originality, vision and breadth over the course of their professional life.

Dr. Tener’s multifaceted career exemplifies the kind of diversified and significant accomplishments that DBIA honors with this lifetime achievement award. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he later served on the civil engineering faculty, Bob Tener earned Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in structural engineering from Iowa State University, became a registered professional engineer in 1963 and was named a Fellow of ASCE in 1988.

Capping his 27-year first career as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer, then-Colonel Tener served as the senior executive-in-charge of major engineered construction projects in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which remains the largest earth-moving project in U.S. history. He oversaw highly successful integrated project delivery of major projects, in which the Corps’ professional planning, engineering, design and construction staff functioned as single, unified project teams. Colonel Tener achieved national and regional recognitions for his leadership and public service in advancing Corps of Engineers civil works programs in the 1970s and 1980s.

Following Army retirement Dr. Tener served in several leadership positions in civic endeavors in Dallas, Texas. He joined the faculty of Purdue University’s School of Civil Engineering in 1994, where he taught undergraduate and graduate civil and construction engineering, directed Purdue’s nationally acclaimed Construction Internship Program, integrated design-build into the civil engineering curriculum and became one of the first university educators to join DBIA (1994).

During his years at Purdue, Dr. Tener focused his speaking, publishing and advocacy efforts on promoting industry-educator interaction. He unceasingly stressed the high value of professional practitioners engaging with faculty and students to advance civil and construction engineering education. Advocating proactive industry advisory committees and high-quality co-op and internship programs were his themes.

Bob Tener was widely recognized and praised by students and employers alike for his personal direction of Purdue’s unique Construction Internship Program, in which every CEM graduate worked three successful summer internships with major construction contractors across the nation serving as mentors. His initiative in bringing increased student exposure to design-build through their classroom studies and internships was a hallmark of his time at Purdue.

Students recognized Bob’s efforts on their behalf: He was honored as Professor of the Year four times by Purdue’s construction engineering students. Writing in support of his nomination for the Brunelleschi Award, two successful 2002 graduates of Purdue’s Construction Engineering and Management program recalled, “He saw the value in collaborative integration through team assignments, he empowered young women through the encouragement of professional career tracks in the building, design and engineering industries and he enforced the highest level of respect while being the kindest, open door ‘shrink’ during any student meltdown, young professional crisis or other life drama.” During 2000-2001 Purdue students elected Dr. Tener as an honorary faculty member to Mortar Board and Iron Key, both campus-wide student honoraries.

After retiring from Purdue in 2002, Bob was recruited to become the founding Executive Director of the Charles Pankow Foundation (CPF) in 2005. Under the guidance of the CPF Board of Directors, he directed the launch and early successes of this non-profit foundation’s research program, based on the purposes set forth by its founder, Charles J. Pankow, the founder and long-time chief executive of Charles Pankow Builders. Mr. Pankow, a past recipient of the Brunelleschi Award, was considered a pioneer of design-build in the construction industry and the foundation is dedicated to continuing his legacy. Well acquainted with Mr. Pankow while at Purdue, Bob wholeheartedly embraced CPF’s mission of advancing innovations in building design and construction for public benefit and proved the ideal leader to establish and energize the operating model for the foundation’s program of research work.

Over its first seven years the Charles Pankow Foundation awarded 41 research grants with a total grant award value of $5.5 million, with 14 grant projects completed and all research products accessible to the public. Under joint sponsorship of CPF and DBIA, the University of Colorado in 2010 delivered the report, “Influence of Project Delivery Method on Achieving Sustainable, High Performance Buildings,” which provides proven best practices for selecting project delivery methods. Another DBIA-CPF collaboration under Bob’s management produced DBIA’s acclaimed 2011 publication, Design Management Guide for the Design-Build Environment. He has also helped launch another joint CPFDBIA research effort now underway that will deliver an empirical guide to successful owner practices regarding roles, team integration, team behavior, delivery method and project performance for building design and construction.

Reflecting on Dr. Tener’s many accomplishments leading CPF, Richard M. Kunnath, President of CPF and Executive Chairman of Charles Pankow Builders, credits him for “Taking the Charles Pankow Foundation from embryonic visibility to the widespread reputation it has today. His drive and intelligence have been vital to the launch and establishment of the foundation.”