May 23, 2024

USM School of Construction and Design Receives $200K Grant

Special to Darkhorse Press

The University of Southern Mississippi. Credit: USM

Pushing the boundaries of innovation and excellence in the built environment, The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Construction and Design has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Mississippi State Board of Contractors.

This grant will fund several initiatives within USM’s Construction Management program, aiming to enhance outreach activities to spark interest in the construction trades through hands-on learning experiences. The initiatives will also provide insights into career paths in the industry and support scholarships and professional development for both students and faculty.

Expressing his enthusiasm, the School Director Dr. Emre Bayraktar stated, “We are thankful for the unwavering support of the Mississippi State Board of Contractors, which serves as a driving force, propelling us to provide immersive and interactive learning experiences at Southern Miss for those who wish to explore or pursue opportunities in the built environment.”

Dr. Bayraktar noted that the school recently achieved a significant milestone with the completion of the renovation of its cutting-edge construction practices laboratory. Now, his team can focus on engaging with current and prospective construction students by integrating the lab’s use into the curricula and outreach programs, making it the center of attraction.

“Now that we have completed the renovation of our construction practices laboratory, we plan on launching several strategic initiatives, strengthening the recruitment and retention of students and bridging the gap between academia and the construction industry,” said Dr. Bayraktar.

Among some of the projects that will elevate the Construction Management program, are:

  • An Immersive Construction Summer Camp: As the outfitting of the laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment and resources reaches completion, the revamped space will host a one-week summer camp for Mississippi high school students. Serving as a gateway for students to acquire practical skills, the camp will also provide a platform for them to discover the various career pathways available at Southern Miss.
  • An Interactive Career Outreach and Discovery Program: Providing foundational insights into careers in construction, K-12 students will actively participate in activities within the new laboratory space. By interacting with professors and current students, they will be exposed to the diverse opportunities available in the construction industry.
  • Hiring of Lab Supervisor: Playing a pivotal role in integrating the lab into the construction management course curricula, the full-time lab supervisor will ensure that students benefit from hands-on learning experiences by providing them with invaluable skills and insights that extend beyond the classroom.
  • Launching Digital Marketing Campaigns: Launching campaigns on digital platforms will increase the visibility of the Construction Management program, attracting more students.
  • MSBOC Scholars Internship Program: To seamlessly blend academic teaching expertise with hands-on construction industry experience, a USM Construction Management faculty member will get the opportunity to work for a construction company over the summer. This will enable faculty to apply real-world examples in the classroom and improve their ability to teach theoretical concepts with practical scenarios.
  • Construction and Design Career Expos: Hosting a Career Expo each semester provides students with the opportunity to network with companies from the construction and design industry, which benefit from building their employer brand on campus and expanding their pool of qualified candidates.
  • The ABC Construction Management Competition: Enriching the educational experience, five construction management students and faculty advisors will attend the 2025 ABC Construction Management Competition. The competition prepares students for life by tasking them with finding solutions to a real-world construction project.
  • Scholarship Fund: Dedicated to supporting talented students who demonstrate a passion for the construction field, the scholarship fund ensures that financial limitations do not hinder a student’s pursuit of a quality education.

“We are very grateful for this grant, which will allow us to continue building upon our momentum,” said Dr. Bayraktar. “We look forward to providing both future and current students, as well as our faculty members, with the resources and experiences needed to meet the demands of the construction and design fields.”

Visit the website of the School of Construction and Design to learn more or call 601.266.4895.

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