Steering Toward a Concrete Plan

While the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) curriculum has been a part of Middle Tennessee State University's (MTSU) catalogue for more than 10 years with 300 graduates serving producers, contractors, and suppliers across the country, many industry leaders still weren't quite sure about the program.

Now, doubt seems to have been turned to resolve. Fueled by a National Science Foundation grant that enabled the MTSU staff to reach out and select three more sites, the national CIM program has come of age. At a meeting in Chicago in August, industry leaders showed their commitment to the program.

Along with words, there has been strong financial support for the CIM National Steering Committee (NSC). At the meeting, Secretary Julie Luther reported that more $375,000 has been collected in 2006. Funding comes from the leading concrete industry associations. Supporting associations include the Ready Mixed Concrete Research Foundation, the Portland Cement Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American Society of Concrete Contractors, National Concrete Masonry Association, and National Precast Concrete Association.

There are currently pledges of $1.625 million over the next five years. “Our goal is to provide at least $2 million to these CIM programs,” said Gene Martineau, NSC president. “Our three new CIM programs will use these and future funds to help jump-start the academic programs and to accelerate the graduation of trained professionals so needed by every aspect of the concrete construction industry.”

As the CIM programs mature at Arizona State University, California State University at Chico, and New Jersey Institute of Technology, the NSC will provide a national platform of support. In time, CIM NSC funding could provide support for a national student recruitment effort, industry textbook development, program certification, job placements, and faculty development.

The growth of the CIM program to a national platform has been both a labor of love and pain for Martineau. His involvement began in the 1990s when he and other ready-mixed concrete industry leaders developed plans for RMC 2000. “Our program now includes much more, especially with the development of program emphasis for both concrete contractors and concrete masons,” says Martineau.

One bittersweet aspect of the meeting was a special recognition to Austin Cheney, who recently left as program director of the CIM of MTSU to become dean of the School of Management and Engineering Technology at New York's Alfred State College.

Another key responsibility undertaken by the CIM NSC will be administering the CIM auction to be held at World of Concrete 2007. “Our goal is to raise $1 million for our industry's education,” says Martineau. The auction will take place at noon, Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Committee members are currently soliciting donations. Richey Bros. will handle the auction.

The Steering Committee also unveiled its new Web site. Information about the CIM program, the four universities offering the degree, and the upcoming auction can be found at www.concretedegree.com.