By Van Arnold, The University of Southern Mississippi
A University of Southern Mississippi alum has given current students the opportunity to get real life experience in the world of interior and exterior design.
To expose students to experiential learning opportunities, seniors in USM Interior Design program, housed in the School of Construction and Design, participated in a competition for Jackson Brother’s Construction Services as part of the ID 342 Residential Interior Design II Class. The winning teams will get to see their proposed designs come to life this semester.
Brandon Jackson, President of Jackson Brother’s Construction Services, is an alum of the Construction Engineering Technology Program at USM. This is the third-year seniors participate in the competition by proposing the interior and exterior material specifications for spec homes under construction.
“Working with Jackson has been a valuable learning experience for our students. These projects expose students to the reality of working within a limited budget and time constraint. They also learn to work and communicate as a team and share responsibilities, which sometimes can be a challenge,” said Claire Hamilton, associate professor in interior design.
“In addition, students learn to manage their time more independently without the typical pre-set class agenda, it is up to them to determine how to meet the deadlines. Communicating with suppliers has also been a learning experience, from learning more about building materials, terminology and estimating materials,” she added.
The ID 342 Residential Interior Design II class was divided into four teams of 3-4 students. They were provided the budget and list of local suppliers in which they could visit to make the selections for two spec homes in Sumrall, Miss.
Teams prepared two presentations, one for the exterior package, which included brick, roofing, lighting, shutters, doors, hardware, paint, trim, Hardie siding, etc. and prepared renderings, specifications and price quotes. The second presentation focused on the interior package and included interior material selections, including doors, hardware, kitchen design, countertops, appliances, tile, flooring, paint, brick, plumbing fixtures and fittings, and lighting.
Following the presentations, representatives from Jackson Brother’s Construction Services selected the top designs based on aesthetics and those that met strict budget parameters. The challenge this year was availability of materials and staying within a tighter budget.
“In the end, I enjoyed watching the teams present their solutions and observing the steps they took to compete with each other. I’ve seen some creative techniques used that have helped them sell their solutions,” said Hamilton.
The winning teams included students in Lot 17: Melissa Nelson from Tylertown, Miss., Lindsay Glover from Hattiesburg, Miss., and Zoie Eddy from Mobile, Ala., and Lot 18: Madison Arabie from Carrier, Miss., Kristina Ledic from Mobile, Ala., and Holland Harkins from Gulfport, Miss.
Harkins, a member of one of the winning teams, discusses her experience of working on the interior and exterior selections for the new build.
“After presenting our selections for the new build, my team was chosen as one of the winning groups, and we will get to watch our designs come to life throughout the rest of the semester,” said Harkins.
“Collaborating with Jackson Brothers was the perfect opportunity for us to grow as future interior designers, as we experienced challenges that we will face when we join the workforce,” she added. “Not only did the project bring a sense of reality to my future career, but it taught me the importance of meeting deadlines, staying within budget, and solving unexpected issues.”
Jackson highlights the benefit of collaborating with USM to provide this extraordinary opportunity for students to gain industry experience and offers career advice.
“There is no substitute for real-world experience and that’s what motivated us to help create this opportunity,” said Jackson. “The advice I have for students is to keep learning how to sell. I encourage you all to push yourselves and become vocal in selling your work. No matter what you’re designing or where you’re working, you will always be selling and presenting your work, information, or yourselves,” he added.
Jackson’s love for construction was fostered by both his father and grandfather who worked in the construction industry. As a student at USM, Jackson was president of the Southern Miss Student Constructors Organization. He gained valuable field experience working under some of the best craftsmen before venturing out on his own in 2017 when he formed Jackson Brother’s Construction Services. Today, Jackson is a licensed contractor in Miss., Ala. and La.