College of Engineering
Service to Marquette Award
Michael H. O'Connor, P.E., Eng '75
A lot more goes into building a building than you might think. Mike O'Connor has built a successful business by taking care of all of it.
"Typically, when you think of construction management, you think of concrete and rebar inspections," Mike says. "What we do is much more involved."
His work includes things like figuring out what impact a building will have on a community. Gaining the community's support. Balancing the often very different agendas of a property's owner, architect and builder. And maximizing the effective use of a building post-construction.
"It's not just a matter of building the buildings," Mike says. "I remember my adviser at Marquette used to say that engineering is taking known knowledge and solving unknown problems. That's what we do."
A 25-year veteran of the construction industry, Mike heads AFG Group Inc., a construction and program management firm headquartered in the Washington, D.C., area. In the past 10 years, AFG has provided services on more than $5 billion of construction projects, including noteworthy jobs such as office renovations at the White House where security considerations added a few wrinkles.
"You can't just back up a pickup to the back of the White House and offload lumber," Mike says. "They don't like that."
Before founding AFG, Mike supplemented his Marquette degree with a master's degree in electrical engineering and served 10 years on active duty with the Navy's Civil Engineering Corps, including two years with the vaunted Seabees construction battalions. Despite living far from Milwaukee, he often returns to Marquette to lend his support to the university's Construction Engineering and Management program. He is a board member of the Triangle Fraternity Educational Foundation; a registered Professional Engineer; an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association; and an active member of the Construction Management Association of American and Society of American Military Engineers.