The University's interest in construction began in the late 1960's when Werner Dornberger and Robert Carr initiated undergraduate classes in Architectural Engineering. The Architectural and Civil Engineering Departments were later combined and Dr. John D. Borcherding initiated graduate classes in 1972. At the time Dr. C.M. Popescu joined the faculty in 1974, there were ten M.S. students and one Ph.D. student. Dr. Richard L. Tucker joined the faculty in 1976 and currently holds the Joe C. Walter, Jr., Chair Emeritus in Engineering. Dr. David Ashley joined the faculty in 1982 and Dr. James T. O'Connor joined in 1984, when the graduate enrollment had more than doubled in size.

In the early 1980s, Tucker and Borcherding and their students represented the CEPM graduate program as they conducted productivity studies for a large Texaco project. The effort convinced industry leaders that construction research was vital to the construction industry's overall improvement, and thus the Construction Industry Institute (CII) was formed. Tucker served as director of CII from 1983-1998, and is also credited with founding the Center for Construction Industry Studies (CCIS) and the National Academy of Construction (NAC).

Research and focus areas have evolved since CEPM’s inception. Originally focused on basic productivity and methods studies, the emphasis shifted over time to an understanding of the complete project life cycle, modeling and simulation, automation, planning and management, and exploitation of advanced information technologies. This effort to expand research areas was made possible thanks to initiative and work of the large-body of faculty. Since 2003, there has been a continued dedication to advance the program in a rapidly changing global environment. Dr. Carlos Caldas (2003), Dr. William O’Brien (2004), Dr. Fernanda Leite (2010), and Dr. Kasey Faust (2015) have all joined and made significant contributions to the refinement of the CEPM program and construction industry research on a national and international stage.