Concrete Industry Management Program arrives in South Dakota

The South Dakota State University Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering will soon offer a four-year bachelor of science degree in Concrete Industry Management. The Brookings school will bring the program to prospects across the Midwest and complement the established CIM venues of Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro; New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark; Texas State University, San Marcos; and, California State University, Chico.

SDSU President Barry Dunn

“We are excited to be selected as the university to fill the needs of the concrete industry, not only in South Dakota, but throughout the entire North Central Region,” observes SDSU President Barry Dunn. “The program supports our mission as a land-grant university of addressing workforce needs in the communities of South Dakota and beyond. Students will become knowledgeable in concrete technology and techniques, capable of managing people and systems, skilled in technical sales and expected to advance to industry leadership positions.”

“The CIM degree is a nice fit for us,” adds Department of Construction and Operations Management Leader Teresa Hall. “If you look at a Venn diagram, you have construction management and operations management and the CIM degree comes up between. While the degree is very focused on a particular material, it’s one that goes hand in hand with construction. We are in an interesting place within Lohr College and the School of Design [and] have everything on the design-build continuum. There are a lot of great things happening at SDSU and there is no reason this degree program shouldn’t flourish.”

The announcement follows a six-month selection process by the CIM National Steering Committee and North Central Region Patrons, which have committed approximately $1.5 million over five years to develop the degree program and assist SDSU in employing a director, recruiter and laboratory manager.

“The concrete industry recognized the need for the CIM program in the Midwest,” notes NCR Patrons Chairman Thor Becken (Cemstone Products). “Once the decision was made to develop a CIM program in the region, it took two years of planning and gaining industry member support before a search committee began interviewing various universities about potential interest in offering a CIM degree.”

The curricula provides graduates with both technical knowledge and leadership expertise to be hired as entry- or middle-level managers. “The goal is to develop the future leaders of the concrete industry,” Becken adds. “This is important because our industry, like many, is aging. Higher-level managers are starting to retire and we’re looking for the next generation of leaders.”

“SDSU’s experience with public/private partnerships, combined with how the Lohr College of Engineering stresses developing programs that engage industry needs, were critical in our decision making,” explains CIM National Steering Committee Executive Director Eugene Martineau (U.S. Concrete, retired). “It was obvious that working with industry is not something new to the university. During our visit to SDSU, it was evident that the president and provost down through the dean and department heads were all-in for establishing a CIM program.”

“This partnership will be a great asset to the CIM program and concrete industry,” National Steering Committee Chairman Michael Schneider (Baker Concrete) concludes. “We look forward to a long relationship with this exceptional university.”

Graduate students Kallan Hart, left, and Theodore Sjurseth check for cracks on a column being tested in the SDSU Lohr Structures Lab. Hart received a $40,000 grant from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute to further the research, specifically looking at bridge members. PHOTOS: South Dakota State University
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Mostafa Tazarv oversees testing of a precast concrete beam and column connection method that makes it possible to repair buildings after an earthquake or other natural disaster impact, and equip components to absorb energy without sustaining damage.

The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s Transportation Activities Council has selected South Dakota State University student Kallan Hart as 2020-21 Dennis R. Mertz Bridge Research Fellowship recipient, recognizing his submission, “Repairable Precast Bridge Bents for Extreme Events.”

He will be advised by Assistant Professor Dr. Mostafa Tazarv, and his work will be supported by Gage Brothers Concrete Products in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he previously worked as an intern, and the National Center for Transportation Infrastructure Durability and Life-Extension, a national University Transportation Center consortium of 11 institutions led by Washington State University. In his fellowship application, Hart notes, “I hope to not only broaden my knowledge and experience in the area of accelerated bridge construction, but also to challenge the industry to make progressive changes to bridge design codes in seismic regions.”

The fellowship was established in 2017 in memory of University of Delaware Civil Engineering Professor Dennis R. Mertz, one of the principal investigators who developed the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications. “PCI is pleased to continue honoring the legacy of Professor Mertz by awarding this fellowship to Mr. Hart and Dr. Tazarv for their research into accelerated bridge construction and repairable column connection,” notes PCI Vice President of Technical Service Jared Brewe. “This project also carries extra significance as Tom Kelley, president of Gage Brothers who passed away in October 2020, was engaging with the research team on this project.”