Expanding Our Reach

 
Monday -
May
06,
2019
 

When the PCI Foundation hosted its first Project Precast at the 2019 PCI Convention in Louisville, we knew we had to capture the competition on video. If your interested in a sneak peek at what the two-day competition looks like, check out the quick video below.

Thursday -
April
25,
2019
 

GUEST BLOG BY Andrew Taylor 
 Idaho State University

ISU is in the process of building this class with the help of about $110,000 of generous support from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) and National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) Foundations and PCI Mountain States.

Monday -
April
22,
2019
 

Once a school expresses an interest in a obtaining a PCI Foundation grant and has the support of a local partner, they may submit a preliminary proposal . If that meets the PCI Foundation baseline criteria

Monday -
March
25,
2019
 

PCI Foundation recently extended University of Colorado at Denver's curriculum development grant for another three years thanks to the hard work of Matt Shea and his industry partners.
"Over the next four years I would like to have the PCI Studio at CU Denver focus on the interface between architecture (the building) and the infrastructure of automobility (parking structure)—an area of interest that emerged out of the past three PCI Studios that I have taught. This relationship, between architecture and the car has always had an intense relationship and is wrought with technical complications and ideological approaches. I believe that the interface between these two conditions needs further exploration and is highly applicable to the precast construction system, particularly as automobility sits on the verge of massive change with the advent of autonomous vehicles. The investigations into this interface undertaken in these studios will largely focus on the design of the tectonics and appearance of the precast structural system and the architectural façade as elements that support, enclose and separate these two disparate programs," says Matt Shea, who heads up the program.  

Student support for the program was a key factor in continuing PCI Foundation support. One student wrote, "I highly valued my time learning from Matthew Shea and view the PCI studio as a truly incredible asset to the University. I was encouraged to pose questions, research, be questioned, and actively explore as a participant which has led me to do the same in the profession." 

Thursday -
March
14,
2019
 

2019 was the inaugural year for Project Precast, a design competition that brought college and university students together with industry mentors in Louisville, Ky, the site of PCI’s annual Convention and Precast Show. The competition was for students to design a Kentucky-themed, 4-stall horse barn, using precast concrete. Sika sponsored the competition.  The winning all-female team sponsored by Tindall Corporation lead by mentor Rob Smith consisted of architecture student Lori North from Clemson University, Kinga Pabjan, a master’s candidate in construction at Washington University in St. Louis and Fernanda Arce an engineering student from the University of Arizona.  The students had no idea what their project was, nor had they ever met the industry mentors or other members of their teams before they arrived in Louisville. Other teams were sponsored by Metromont, Spancrete, Lombard Architectural, and CEG. 


PCI Foundation gave the students less than two days to work together to design a 4-stall horse barn. Their research included learning about horse barns, spending time on the trade show floor meeting vendors and experts who could guide them toward products and systems that would lead them to a winning entry.
 

Wednesday -
November
28,
2018
 

A new Precast Studio at Idaho State University will start up in January and be co-funded by the PCI Foundation and the NPCA Foundation. During the first year, the focus will be on precast bridges and include:

Tuesday -
November
27,
2018
 
Monday -
November
19,
2018
 

Ji Chao, an architecture student at South Dakota State University, was among the many students who took part in the poster sessions at the 2018 PCI Convention in Denver. 

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