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Jera Sullivan, Ph.D. - Milwaukee School of Engineering. Milwaukee, WI, US

Jera Sullivan, Ph.D. Jera Sullivan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Program Director | Milwaukee School of Engineering


Jera Sullivan is an expert in construction management, construction, civil engineering and construction engineering.

Education, Licensure and Certification (5)

Engineer in Training (EIT): Wisconsin

Ph.D.: Construction Engineering, Arizona State University 2016

M.S.: Civil Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison 2011

B.S.: Civil Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison 2009

B.S.: Physics, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 2007


Dr. Jera Sullivan is an assistant professor in MSOE's Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Department, and the construction management program director. Sullivan previously was a program controls engineer for Cotter Consulting Inc. and a transportation construction inspector with DAAR Corporation.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Contract Management


Construction Management

Civil Engineering


Affiliations (2)

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) : Associate Member & Faculty Advisor
  • Habitat for Humanity : Co-advisor


Event and Speaking Appearances (2)

Market Entry Decision-Making Framework for Sheet Metal Contractors

Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) Annual Convention  2014, 2015, 2016

Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) Annual Convention

eadership Development Forum, Arizona Builders Alliance  Phoenix, AZ., 2015

Selected Publications (3)

Two decades of performance comparisons for design-build, construction manager at risk, and design-bid-build: Quantitative analysis of the state of knowledge on project cost, schedule, and quality

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management

Sullivan, J., Asmar, M.E., Chalhoub, J., Obeid, H.

2017 Measuring the performance of design build (DB), construction manager at risk (CMR), and design-bid-build (DBB) delivery methods has been the subject of many construction research studies. The collective results of these studies are difficult to interpret because the studies extend over decades and some show mixed results as to which delivery method offers superior performance. This paper analyzes the current literature on the three most widely used project delivery methods, and combines the quantitative findings for five performance metrics: cost growth, unit cost, schedule growth, delivery speed, and quality. By combining these results, this paper considers a much larger data set of projects, which leads to more representative results and further confidence in the conclusions. The quantitative results from 30 existing studies representing 4,623 projects are combined, their methodologies are compared and contrasted, and are ordered chronologically to highlight temporal trends. Combining the results from current literature and weighting the findings using each study’s sample size shows that DB is the most effective in controlling cost growth (+2.8%) as compared with CMR (+5.8%) or DBB (+5.1%). No single delivery method consistently performs better on unit cost. CMR and DB were found to be the most accurate in controlling the schedule variation of a project, with an average schedule growth of +10.2 and +10.7%, respectively, as compared with a much higher +18.4% for DBB. Moreover, DB was found to be superior in delivery speed in all explored studies and continues to increase its advantage over time. The study also highlights methodological inconsistencies in the construction literature, which could be standardized to provide more comparable results among future studies. This paper contributes to the body of knowledge by analyzing two decades of project delivery systems literature to compare the cost, schedule, and quality performance of DB, CMR, and DBB delivery systems.

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DB 2020: Analyzing and forecasting design-build market trends

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management

Vashani, H., Sullivan, J. and El Asmar, M.

2016 A leading engineering and construction industry magazine has been collecting revenue data from construction firms and publishes the list of the 100 largest design-build (DB) firms every year. According to this magazine and many technical articles, DB has grown drastically over the last decade; however, information about growth trends for different firm sizes is lacking. Also missing is a forecast of future market trends over the next five years. Using revenue data from the top 100 DB firms, the authors have divided the firms into subsets, using

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Uncovering market entry decision factors for the sheet metal and HVAC industry

Construction Research Congress

Sullivan, J., Asmar, M.E. and Sullivan, K.

2016 Expanding geographically, adding trades, and competing for larger or new types of projects are examples of market entry approaches used by construction firms to grow their organizations. Growth provides the opportunity to develop and motivate personnel, expand the brand, and mitigate market risks. Unfortunately, market entry also may cause business hardship. Although the literature suggests having a standard decision process leads to better outcomes, a formal, written protocol for addressing domestic market entry decisions could not be found in the construction literature. This paper briefly outlines a method for creating an applied market entry decision framework, and then details one critical aspect of this process: prioritization of decision factors. Key decision factors are uncovered through a review of the literature and interviews with industry professionals, and then prioritized using modified Delphi workshops. The top two decision factors for both workshops were ‘Market need’ and ‘experience and abilities of the champion.’ The results contribute to the construction body of knowledge by providing the most important factors for sheet metal and HVAC contractors to consider when entering a new market.

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