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Reaching Beyond the Classroom with PCI Foundation Programs

When the PCI Foundation first started funding educational programs at schools of architecture, engineering and construction management, the first thought was simply getting precast into that program for that semester. The thought of reaching students beyond that initial program was beyond the hopes and dreams of those sponsoring the programs. And yet, that is exactly what has happened.


Although the PCI Foundation may only sponsor one specific class, the program reaches out far beyond those few students. As the precast programs have developed, we have seen them develop “tentacles” … the precast programs are influencing areas beyond the classroom where our work is funded by grants. Some of the unexpected results of the programs we have created include:


Creating a professional community of precast professors


Recently I attended the final review of the student projects at the University of Michigan. I was happy to run into Brad Bell, who runs the PCI Foundation program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Professors attending each other’s programs has happened almost since the beginning of our programs. Additionally, professors share their programs together during the PCI Convention. The best curriculum ideas rise to the top and are redeveloped in other classrooms.


Expanding beyond students in the sponsored classroom


One of the encouraging byproducts of the sponsored programs at schools of architecture, engineering and construction management is that some of the events that happen as part of the PCIF funded program are offered to other students in the school. We see this happening especially with plant tours and job site tours. Students in other classes are often invited along, and for many schools we are seeing that every student in the program is at least exposed to the precast industry in this way.


Developing continuing education programs for local professionals


Several of the professors running PCIF funded programs have looked for other ways to use their new-found knowledge to enhance professional education as well. When guest speakers are invited in for the class, community professionals are sometimes invited along. In some cases, precast is added as a topic to a major program. At the University of Southern California, professors Doug Noble and Karen Kensek worked with the local precast industry to host several precast "building enclosure" seminars. 


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