Robert Elliot, Middle Tennessee State University
Employer: Lafarge North America
“With the CIM program, there is now a source for young energetic professionals to expand your company’s business. The graduates from the CIM programs are changing the concrete industry daily.”
What is your involvement in the CIM program? Why did you get involved with the program?
In the early 1990s, our Industry identified three areas of concern for our future. Those areas identified were: 1) the aging workforce – over 60 percent of managers were over 55 years of age, 2) industry image, and 3) education. Ready Mix 2000 was an industry initiative to address these and other problems for the future. While lecturing classes at MTSU on “Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures,” I suggested the idea of a four-year degree program in Concrete Industry Management to department heads and the Dean of Applied Science and they agreed to investigate the possibilities of such a program. The industry support was overwhelming, and hence the birth of CIM.
Why have you and your company made the commitment to the CIM program? What benefits do you think it will bring to your company?
Lafarge North America realized the potential benefits of this program and has placed many graduates in management roles in our ready mix operations. I see CIM graduates frequently during the course of doing business, and I find them to be very professional and knowledgeable.
What are your thoughts about the industry/academic partnership between CIM and its industry partners and patrons?
The partnership between the concrete industry and MTSU was not fully appreciated until a group of patrons, along with MTSU’s President Dr. McPhee, met with the Secretary and Under Secretary of Education in Washington D.C. The concrete industry and MTSU had solved the “disconnect” between industry and higher education and the Secretary of Education wanted to know how the patrons accomplished this so he could use our success in other industries with other universities. Dr. Keese, Dean of Applied Science at MTSU guided the local patrons in our role and suggested we set up a National Steering Committee.
Why should other companies in the concrete industry get involved in the CIM program?
With the CIM program, there is now a source for young energetic professionals to expand your company’s business. The graduates from the CIM programs are changing the concrete industry daily. How can they get involved? Companies can get involved in a number of different ways like joining a CIM patrons group, providing internships for students, interviewing CIM graduates for job openings, and continuing to support the program financially.
What is your vision for the CIM program?
My vision for the program includes local patrons groups promoting the program to potential students (500 at each of the five universities), an online master’s degree program and a curriculum that evolves with the industry.