Launch Slideshow

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Hiring Education

Hiring Education

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    “Our goal is to develop an academic environment between all the CIM universities that standardizes the students' skills upon graduation.” – Rex Cottle, chairman of the CIM National Steering Committee on Education.

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    The Concrete Industry Management program at Middle Tennessee State University was the first in the nation. It has since expanded to three other schools. Dr. Heather Brown, director of the program at MTSU, is at the far right.

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    By participating in national competitions such as the American Concrete Institute's bowling ball design contest, students and faculties share learning and teaching experiences. Pictured is the team from Arizona State University, Kendra Warner; Dr. Luke Snell, director of the ASU CIM program, and Jennifer Harris.

Setting the norm

Universities always take great pride in their individuality. Thus, the faculties strongly value their schools' traditional core values. New programs normally staff-developed are often designed to further ongoing educational initiatives.

This results in the difficult task for each school's administration to incorporate the CIM curriculum into its particular school. “Transferring an industry-sponsored curriculum from school to school is new to the educational arena, and there are no standards or guides,” says Cottle.

Much of the focus has been on recognizing each school's educational roadblock. It has tried identifying the basic first- and second-year course at each school, ensuring it provides the basic tools for the CIM courses. In the future, the committee hopes to develop a relationship between the CIM institutions that could allow students to take courses at any school for credit.

Cottle sees the day when, through the work of the educational committee, those students will share experiences across schools. The committee hopes to make this happen by considering remote-learning alternatives for certain CIM classes. There is even a greater prospect that seniors from several universities can take the same capstone course. “Our CIM faculties bring unique sets of skills and such sharing would allow students to benefit,” he says.

Another long-term goal is developing a national third-party accreditation initiative. Cottle compares the effort to how engineering and medical schools' programs are reviewed to ensure that academic standards are maintained. An independent service would perform the review to ensure that the basic elements of education, faculty requirements, lab, and curriculum are consistent to the norms the National Steering Committee established.

Faculty unification

Meanwhile, the faculties are working on better coordination in the classroom. Later this month, the MTSU faculty is hosting a planning session to improve the classroom experience for all CIM students. At the ASTM meeting in Denver, the work group hopes to identify sources for literature, publications, materials, knowledge, and other resources that will best fit the prescribed curriculum and learning standards.

Spearheaded by Dr. Heather Brown, the gathering is an opportunity to share what's been successful in classroom activities, lessons, lectures, guest speakers, and future interactive activities. Brown hopes to update the CIM faculty on what resources should be used in the classroom and provide information on how to find them.

She wants to ensure CIM students receive the materials and information that is necessary to achieve the educational standards set by the National Steering Committee and industry expectations. “Our goal is to make sure that our efforts to provide our students with the education and curriculum outlined by the CIM leadership groups has the best and most current information available,” says Brown.

This conference also allows industry experts to showcase the new tools they have developed. Many of the CIM national sponsors provide instructional, educational, and training materials to the industry professionals. By gathering these key stakeholders, Brown hopes to provide faculties with the most current tools to prepare students for the workforce.

Earning MBAs

While Cottle and the faculty advisers work to strengthen the CIM undergraduate foundation, there is preliminary discussion about the next step: developing a master's degree in business administration with a focus on CIM.

A working group from the educational committee is reviewing the concept, with the potential of writing a proposal to receive another grant from the NSF to develop the proper curriculum. Cottle believes the NSF would strongly favor the grant, based upon the success of the undergraduate program and industry support.

National Steering Committee Chairman Gene Martineau supports the effort. The master's degree would help expand the program to industry professionals who entered the work-force with degrees in engineering, material sciences, and liberal arts. “We have had a number of sponsoring producers ask for the degree as an option to funding MBAs from programs that really don't provide the industry specifics needed in the construction market,” says Martineau.

Visitwww.concretedegree.comto learn more about the CIM effort.