With PCI Foundation programs running at 10 different schools this year - there are many students visiting various plants all around the US. The relationship between the local partner and the school is a key to the success of any precast studio.
Each semester, about 15 UTA students come to the Gate Precast plant in Hillsboro, TX to get a better understanding of the scope of precast and the materials and methods used in today’s fabrication of architectural precast. After giving students a general presentation about architectural precast, plant personnel takes them on a tour of the fabrication facility, the yard, and then gives them a chance to ask questions.
“Having the students has been a very good experience. It amazes me that there are people who I meet who have been in the construction industry for 10 or 15 years who have never seen a precast plant - and yet, here we are able to give students this experience before they have even been in the work world.”
“Getting the students here early gives them an eye-opening experience about what we do and how we do it,” says Trosset. “When they go back to the classroom it starts to help them make a lot more sense of the testing and designing they take on.
Gate’s Quality Control Manager Conrad Filo travels to the school to help with classroom experiences - especially working with ultra-high strength concrete and insulated products.
The experience between the school and the plant is not just a one-way street, however. Trosset notes that having a relationship with the school has allowed Gate to use the school to test new products such as lifting devices.
Like other PCI Foundation funded programs, the funding of the studio takes place over a number of years, allowing the program to be an incubator for future precast concrete education at the school. Once the PCI Foundation funding is finished, the partnerships usually stay in place. “I’d like to still be involved after the program is officially finished. Any time we have a chance to influence architects early on is exciting. I like knowing that a big architecture school is getting this kind of precast experience. For us, it is priceless.”