MTSU hones plans to safely welcome students to campus this fall

As schools and universities across the country hone their plans to educate students this fall, the CIM program at MTSU is striving to maintain the personal connection with students, hands-on emphasis in the classroom, and industry connections that make the program and students so successful.  With Spring grads in great standing in the industry and internships settled for the summer, the faculty and staff of the CIM programs have worked hard this summer to plan and prepare for new course delivery methods in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Middle Tennessee State University, home of the flagship CIM program, plans to have students on campus in some capacity, with social distancing measures in place, starting August 24th.  Enrollment and state funding has been a worry in higher education this summer, but the trend has been positive as plans develop and students register for classes.  In CIM at MTSU, new students are fewer than in years past. However, with nearly 80 new students in the Intro class and another five weeks for registration, staff are cautiously optimistic for fall.

With over half of courses (56%) at MTSU moving to online delivery, most of the nearly 20 concrete classes will be delivered in a hybrid manner; with an online and an in-person, often laboratory, component.  Faculty research has continued without pause through the summer and the fall Senior Lab class as well as the Decorative Concrete class are two that will remain traditional in-person courses.  “We are fortunate to have an industry that understands and supports us in this new educational environment. We have had several employers reach out with offers to assist with online content and virtual guest lectures,” said Nicole Green, Industry Relations Manager with CIM at MTSU.

Signs on the desks at MTSU mark the spots for students to sit in order to stay socially distanced in the classroom.


Precautions are being taken on campus to keep faculty, staff and students safely distanced for the fall semester.

Classrooms, labs and common spaces have been measured and marked, course enrollments have been adjusted, new equipment has been purchased, faculty have been training, and policies are in place to continue to educate students as safely as possible this fall.  MTSU also plans to host its annual career fair this fall in an online format and will continue to host information sessions and socials for students to connect with industry through Zoom.  Kevin Overall, MTSU CIM Lab Manager and Instructor said, “Concrete and construction are very hands-on industries and that mirrors where we need to be during this pandemic in order to teach our students good practices so they are prepared to enter the real world.”


Masked research in the concrete lab. Left: Kevin Overall, CIM Lab Manager assists Dr. Zhifu Yang, CIM faculty (center) over the summer with testing procedures for recycled concrete samples.

CIM students, staff and faculty pour a pad at a residence to capture photos to teach students flatwork techniques online this fall.