The technology and construction management (TCM) program at Missouri State University is setting the pace for hands-on learning with the addition of a steel crane.
David Joswick, senior instructor of TCM, began planning a steel lab unit three years ago. He got the program off the ground recently after receiving funding for an indoor steel crane and additional materials from the provost’s office.
The program allows his students to get real life experience in steel work.
“Students like to see how it all goes together,” Joswick said. “The experience gets them interested in the work early on and keeps them interested as they progress through the program.”
Learning by doing
In the lab, students work together at their stations. Communication is key to their projects’ success.
Four students team up to place a steel beam. One operates the crane, while two sit across from each other ready to bolt the beam in place. The final student guides the beam and directs the rest of the group.
The students are light-hearted as they imagine themselves 100 feet in the air and swaying in the wind. But here in the lab, the future project managers are safe from the elements and low to the ground.
“Students wouldn’t get this experience in the field or through most other programs in the country,” Joswick said. “Most universities only offer lecture courses for construction management.”
“After they graduate, they have to confirm safety procedures are being followed every day on the job,” said Joswick. “That’s why it’s so important they understand what it’s like for their workers and develop good habits now.”
A unique opportunity
Joswick and his colleagues want to see their students succeed. They believe that hands-on learning is key to their success.
The construction materials and methods laboratory features multiple stations, including masonry and welding. The most imposing station is the steel crane and beam station at the center of the room.
He added this hands-on learning is crucial for students to better understand what their workers are doing in the field. It helps them build appreciation for each worker’s role on the jobsite.
Developing tomorrow’s professionals
The TCM program strives to develop the practical knowledge students will use on the jobsite to plan schedules, communicate expectations with stakeholders and appreciate their workers’ contributions.
Learning these lessons not only sets students up for success in their future classes, but also as they enter the workforce, Joswick explains.
“When students graduate and start managing a jobsite, they need to know what it’s like to do the work. It’s a lot more difficult than it looks,” Joswick said. “It’s their job to help the workers succeed and to do the work safely.”