Sunny, blue skies and warm temperatures were the backdrop at the official ribbon cutting Thursday to officially open Middle Tennessee State University’s state-of-the-art School of Concrete and Construction Management Building, located on the west side of campus.
The $40.1 million facility features 54,000 square feet of integrated and experiential learning laboratories for 135 current Concrete Industry Management majors and 200 Commercial Construction Management students. The new building is six times the size the program previously had in the Voorhies Engineering Technology building.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee calls the SCCM building “the beginning of a new chapter” for the university’s concrete and construction programs.
“With today’s dedication, we are publicly reaffirming our commitment to maintaining the nation’s finest program in Concrete and Construction Management,” McPhee told a crowd of guests.
The new facility marks an expansion of the university’s Corridor of Innovation in the heart of campus, anchored by the state-of-the-art Science Building. In coming years, SCCM will have a new neighbor as the Applied Engineering Building will be built in that same area of campus.
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Among the SCCM building’s many features are a 200-seat lecture hall, four basic materials and building labs, a dedicated mechanical electrical plumbing classroom, a covered amphitheater and two computer labs — including a virtual design and construction lab capable of advanced building models and construction simulations, plus an augmented virtual reality lab for immersive experiences.
Construction is a $1 trillion-plus industry that impacts every aspect of life where we live, work, learn, shop, dine and more. Students graduating from the program average $60,000-plus in starting salary and have an almost 100% placement rate, program officials said.
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“Students will see firsthand how the many forms of concrete can add value and creativity to a structure,” McPhee said. “The building is a true living laboratory, with examples of various construction techniques and operating systems operating in full view of students.”
School of Concrete and Construction Management Director Kelly Strong said there are 1,800 combined Concrete Industry Management (1,100) and Commercial Construction Management (600) alumni “who are leaders in our industry.”
Speakers included Southern Concrete Machinery owner Chris Davenport, who became the first CIM graduate in 2000, and Jessie Boone, president of the CIM Patrons and Road Worx director of business development.
Austin Chaney was the initial CIM director. Heather Brown, of Murfreesboro, directed CIM for 20 years. During her tenure, both programs fell under the School of Concrete and Construction Management umbrella.
“To me, it’s more than a building. It’s the people,” said Brown, who received a standing ovation from attendees for her tireless efforts to help make the new building a reality.
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Brown noted a poem read by Jon Huddleston, associate professor, and CIM director, to close the event that highlighted the importance of building bridges for the people who will follow you in life.
“The poem resonated with me. It’s what I said all the time, ‘I don’t build buildings. I build people.’” Brown said.
“Buildings are wonderful, but this was about people. This is a testament to how special CIM is,” Brown said. “It’s absolutely the student success, the alumni success. … Universities can create special microcosms of relationships. This is really good for MTSU to have a special program like this.”
Reach reporter Nancy DeGennaro at [email protected]