Planning for a child's education has become daunting. Parents must set aside the $125,000 financial planners estimate will be necessary to finance a newborn's four-year degree at a state college. This doesn't include the cost in time and money in simply raising the child from infant to young adult.

If this seems to be a mission impossible, imagine expanding this process by 600. Then, factor in the daunting task of arranging the educational effort for 600 students for the next 20 years.

That's the challenge the educational committee of the National Steering Committee for the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program is undertaking. Spurred by the success at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), the educational committee is concentrating on the next step. In a little more than a decade, the CIM student count has soared from the size of a baseball team to what will be more than 1000 young men and women in a year or two.

More recently, the program has expanded to include Arizona State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and California State University-Chico.

Led by Dr. Rex Cottle, the committee has been developing a strategy that focuses on ensuring the quality of the student's educational experience.

This involves preparing an environment at each institution that provides the proper learning experiences. “Fortunately, we have had great support in this goal from each school's local support group,” says Cottle. Along with their outstanding financial commitment of funding, patrons have donated hundred of hours as visiting professors and arranging field trips.

“Our goal is to develop an academic environment between all the CIM universities that standardizes the students' skills upon graduation,” says Cottle. “Prospective employers must be assured that the student from Arizona State's CIM program has the same basic training as a student graduating from another program.”

This industry-sponsored education-sharing experience is the first of its kind in U.S. higher education. The basic curriculum was developed with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and supported by the Ready Mix Concrete Foundation. While implemented first at MTSU, the educational committee provides a review. “Our goal is establishing a national educational resource for all the CIM schools,” says Cottle.