USM construction program receives $100,000 grant from state board

The School of Construction and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors (MSBOC) that will be used to promote and advance construction education in the state.

Dr. Erich Connell, Director of USM’s School of Construction and Design, notes that the MSBOC grant is unique to the State of Mississippi in that the board, who oversees “construction” standards, supports educational programs through specified funding.

“The MSBOC allows us to use these funds to promote education related to construction, student needs in construction and faculty development in areas of construction as well,” said Connell. “A limited amount of funds is permitted for equipment related to the education of construction, and for students or courses construction students take.”

Connell notes that the construction program within the school is labeled “Construction Management.”

“It is a professional program of education. We make a difference in Mississippi, providing students of the state an extraordinary opportunity to have productive careers for life, and the MSBOC has helped us in doing this,” he said.

The School of Construction and Design serves as an advocate for construction education, striving to forge connections between its curriculum and the workforce in general. Included among the many facets are: “stay in school scholarships,” as well as “come to the CM program scholarships.” The school supports a “Future Builders” summer camp for middle school and high school students, while hosting a “Day of Construction + Design” each year that includes upwards of 125 students and counselors.

“We also send faculty to certification programs or seminars to increase their value as educators and help connect them back to the industry for which our programs are designed,” said Connell. “Additionally, we have a Leadership Lecture series that brings in a nationally renowned speaker related to the Built Environment (Construction, Architecture, Engineering and Interior Design).”

Connell stresses that students play a key role within the school’s programs. The Southern Miss Student Constructors Organization assists with the Day of Construction + Design event, while the Sigma Lambda Chi (International Construction Education Honor Society) helps with many other events.

The MSBOC grant has enabled USM’s construction program to climb into the top 15 percent of more than 150 programs within the Associated Schools of Construction.

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