Expanding Our Reach

 
Monday -
November
05,
2018
 
When the trustees started the PCI Foundation, the thought was to get precast concrete design into architecture, engineering and construction management curriculum. As we have seen that goal achieved at the various schools we have worked with, we have noticed another phenomenon. The money the PCI Foundation puts toward a program seems to multiply … and at rates that we never knew were possible.
 
At the end of October, the PCI Foundation held its Board of Trustees meeting at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. In addition to hearing from the two newer grant recipients  (ASU and University of Arizona) we asked Dr. Adel ElSafty of the University of North Florida School of Engineering and our Academic Council Chair, to report on how his program is going.
 
If you have followed the PCI Foundation programs, you will remember that Dr. ElSafty was the first recipient of a grant for an all-engineering studio. He reported, “Since we started with our PCI Foundation Studio in grant in April 2009, I was able to get 2.5 million dollars in the last nine years. When we went to the Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and National Science Foundation and we say we work in collaboration with the PCI Foundation and we are conducting this research it helps. We then ask them, can you partially fund us? And they were able to do that. FDOT gave me about 10 projects in the last seven years.”
 
So while the money from a PCI Foundation grant is not used for research, research follows the grant. As professors learn about the industry and its needs and as other funding sources find that schools are working with industry, they become more interested in working with that school as well.
 
Peter Finsen, executive director of the Georgia/Carolinas PCI, noted that along with the professors at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, his group calculated that all told, more than $250,000 of additional support beyond the PCI Foundation grant based on in-kind donations and other support received by the school.
 
Professors have also told us that knowing industry is interested in a college program often helps research move to the top of a funding list faster. “And the other advantage is that, if I get an NSF project, 47% to 57% of it is going to overhead. In our PCI Foundation grant, I can negotiate with the research office to have only 5%. So the money that you've got from the PCI Foundation goes a long way.” 
 
The flexibility allowed by a PCI Foundation grant provides professors a way to travel and to integrate into the precast industry by attending conferences and meetings. This has proven to be helpful not only to the professors, but also to the industry as we are able to learn from the research that the professors conduct and help steer the types of curriculum students receive.
 
During his presentation, Dr. ElSafty also touched on some of the changing trends he is seeing in how professors are being evaluated for tenure. While publishing and research dollars continue to play an important role - schools are also asking professors to exhibit engagement with the community - often by partnering with industry. So our programs could not come at a more opportune time for many of the  professors we are seeking to connect with. Additionally, the trend in teaching is experiential learning - students don’t want to sit and be lectured, but instead want to be “doing” - walking in a plant, creating molds, casting concrete.
 
During the PCI Convention you will have an opportunity to meet many of the students and professors through the education session on Saturday morning and through the student posters on the show floor. Stop by there to see how you might help a school near you appreciate the PCI Foundation “new math.”
Tuesday -
July
03,
2018
 

Arizona State University

Architecture
Philip Horton, Lead Professor
Partner: T-Pack

Wednesday -
June
13,
2018
 

Architecture students from both graduate and undergraduate students took part in the precast studio that Qingqing Sun was part of at Clemson. She previous had some precast experience while working in China, but had much more in depth understanding of it after she learned about it in partnership with the members of Georgia / Carolinas PCI and Carlos Barrios at Clemson. Now she feels ready to meet even the most challenging questions about precast concrete. 

Wednesday -
June
06,
2018
 

The PCI Foundation hosted its 4th Professors Seminar in conjluction with Washington University in St. Louis May 22 - 24, 2019. Thirty attendees from schools, PCI regions and precast producers spent three days sharing how to best teach precast concrete topics and how to use industry / academic partnerships to create experiential learning opportunities. 

Tuesday -
June
05,
2018
 

Katie Koskey took part in a precast seminar during 2017 at Georgia Tech. She shares some of her work during the poster session at the PCI Convention in Denver.

Tuesday -
May
29,
2018
 

Page Cross took some time out of her poster session display at the PCI Convention to share what she learned during the Precast Studio taught by Carlos Barrios at Clemson University. She was impressed by the range of possabilities that precast offers, and plans on using it in projects when she goes to work after she graduates. 

Tuesday -
May
08,
2018
 

The PCI Foundation Board of Trustees recently voted to continue its support for Clemson University's Precast Studio for three more years.

Thursday -
May
03,
2018
 
Wednesday -
May
02,
2018
 

The PCI Foundation recently approved funding a a four-year curriculum development grant for a precast bridge program at California State University at Sacramento (Sac State) to be lead by Professor Eric Matsumoto. The integrated program will combine work in schools of engineering and construction management and build on the precast work already being taught at the school to create new curriculum so a student can have up to four years of programming on precast design and construction.