Most people in the precast industry are aware that the PCI Foundation has helped fund "Precast Studios" at schools of architecture around the US in partnership with local organizations who help create the content. Over the last few years, however, the arsenal of programs offered by the PCI Foundation has expanded to meet the needs for precast concrete educators and students throughout the US.
No matter what the program we are supporting, the goal is always to create a positive, meaningful and lasting impression on students who will soon be working in the design and construction industry.
Today, schools of Architecture, Engineering and Construction management make up the bulk of grant recipients from the PCI Foundation. Since 2001, we have provided education grants to 19 schools - each with its own unique focus and approach to teaching precast concrete design, fabrication or construction. Some of the programs take on the traditional architectural studio approach, while others work more on the fabrication side using digital technology, construction management programs take on a "real world" project by
shadowing a project at a PCI member company, or engineering departments take a new approach that not only teaches the design of precast concrete components, but also allows students to take on the role of consultant to another student's project.
As the programs have evolved, so has the fraternity of professors teaching about precast concrete, and learning from one another. Professional relationships, mentorship, and friendships have evolved between grantees as the PCI Foundation has found other ways to enhance the precast educators experience.
Starting in 2015, the PCI Foundation began offering a "Professors Seminar" - this program is hosted at one by one of the Universities we have worked with, and moves around the country each year to allow more professors to attend. We spend three days offering ideas to professors about how they can approach precast concrete in the classroom environment. The next program will be this spring at Washington university in St. Louis.
In addition to the professors seminar, PCI Foundation grant recipients also gather at the PCI Convention. Each year, we present a program for students and professors that includes many opportunities for them not only to learn from PCI members, but also to learn from and inspire each other. Students present a poster on the convention show floor showing their precast concrete work. Professors gather together for a open "Round Table" event that allows them to share ideas and inspiration, and they present their programs as part of a panel discussion of current professors.
In 2017, a team of PCI Foundation Trustees worked with members of the NCPA Foundation to create an Internship Program that can be used jointly by PCA and NPCA members. The program, which will be available on the members-only portion of the PCI and NPCA websites, takes employers through the process of attracting top interns, creating a meaningful program, and supervising an intern.
The work of the PCI Foundation continues to evolve and expand as we discover the best ways to engage and educate students and professors in the interest of precast concrete design and construction.