Indiana State University Newsroom

Research of ISU student, technology industry professional, wins top honor

December 3, 2009

An Indiana State University graduate student's research earned him the top honor at a November conference when it was judged the best against 257 of his peers.

During the national conference of the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering, John R. Patton - a Ph.D. student in construction management at ISU - was awarded the 2009 Best Conference Paper.

In his winning paper, Patton discussed how value can be generated for clients throughout the construction process with a value production model. His research centered upon how governments, departments of transportation and others lose money by contracting their capital improvement construction work.

"There is a great deal of value not recovered through the construction process, and companies do not recognize that loss," Patton said.

Patton's research is relevant to the industry perhaps because of the position he holds as Home Depot's director of construction and store set up for the eastern half of the United States. Patton, whose work with Home Depot has moved him from Terre Haute to Eaton, Penn., is completing his Ph.D. through a Web-based distance learning program.

ISU offers the Ph.D. in technology management in conjunction with the University of Central Missouri, Bowling Green State University, East Carolina University, and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.

Patton's unique insight into his field of study is what helped to set his paper apart from many others, said Dave Monforton, associate director of the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering.

Patton's research wasn't measured only against other student work. It was judged primarily against professors and professionals in the fields of technology, management and engineering.

"There are a few students that attend our conferences, but most of them do not present research," Monforton said. "They come to participate in the contests and the competition events.

"What this student did is pretty remarkable."

Monforton said Patton's work was excellent because of its professional presentation, its organization and readability and its application to and knowledge of industrial, technological or academic problems or issues.

ISU Associate Professor of construction management Lee Ellingson, who is a member of Patton's dissertation committee, describes Patton as a "self-starter" who finds things in his research "that most people in the industry don't see."

"This is a well-deserved honor for him, and I think he is justifiably proud," Ellingson said.

Patton said he intends to expand this research and use it as the springboard for his dissertation. Patton, who hopes to graduate at the conclusion of the fall 2010 semester, said he believes the education he's receiving through ISU is equipping him well for his future.

ISU's program offers a "rigorous approach to getting the doctorate degree," Patton said. "I like the program, I like the professors, and I like the level of the work. It's pretty challenging and that fits well with my personality."

Writer: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of media relations, Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University at 812-237-3790 or