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The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) recognizes Careers in Construction Month this October by having its Construction Management Technology program students ready for the 2019 Rebuilding Together In Charles County event with an eye on managing construction work, as well as performing it. The associate degree program in Construction Management Technology is offered to students and professionals looking to become team leaders, shop foremen/women, estimators or job-site supervisors in the construction industry.
CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy welcomed 66 new students to the CSM Regional Hughesville Campus, Center for Trades and Energy Training (CTET) this fall and told the tradesmen and tradeswomen, considered ‘first-year’ skilled trade students, “The world as we know it, would not exist without your expertise.”
Murphy pointed to the critical need we face to revitalize our construction industry, as reported in the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
“At the crossroads of a thriving future society and innovation lies the nation’s construction industry, where everything begins. The backbone of our society rests on the craft professionals who build our hospitals and schools, wire electricity within our homes and bring us indoor plumbing,” the report stated.
“The nationwide shortage of skilled craft professionals – carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders, HVAC technicians and all the trades – exceeds 1.5 million positions,” confirmed CSM Vice President of Continuing Education and Workforce Development Dr. Dan Mosser. “Today, skilled trades professionals – craft workers and jouneymen alike – earn on average $9,835 more annually than the four-year degree graduate.”
CSM’s Construction Management Program, however, goes beyond teaching the technical skills required for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders and HVAC technicians, said CSM Construction Management Technology Instructor and Coordinator Tony Stout.
“This credited program focuses on business ethics and management skills,” he explained. “The students enrolled in the Construction Management Program learn about legal agreements, budgets, estimating, methods/materials control, human resources, people skills, risk management and the ins-and-outs of the National Labor Relations Act.”
Graduates of the management program are also in high demand. The job search site Indeed posted 1,773 available construction management jobs in Maryland the second week of October. In addition, Indeed reported in March that preconstruction manager and construction superintendent positions were among the top 10 jobs projected for 2018 based on salaries of at least $75,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed Indeed’s report on its website, sharing that nationally, construction managers comprised more than 400,000 of the nation’s 7.8 million industry workers with a median income of $91,370 in 2017.
Rebuilding Together In Charles County, through the annual event “Christmas in April,” provides much-needed house repairs to the most vulnerable citizens. In April 2018, Stout offered extra credit to his students if they joined fellow faculty and CSM staff volunteers to fix a home in disrepair. That decision proved to be a win/win for his students pursuing careers in the construction industry and is why he is incorporating the 2019 event into his syllabus.
The spring’s project was not without its challenges to Stout’s team, much like any construction project may encounter. In this case, the home, located in Pomfret, Maryland, was built in 1920.
“The CSM team quickly learned that foundations settle over time, floors are not level, walls are not plumb and the framing process used at the time the home was built was not even close to today’s standards,” he said.
Stout added that while his team planned, pre-staged and performed much of the work that needed to be done, they encountered many things they did not plan for that had to be addressed.
“The most important lesson throughout the day was that we had a huge project schedule, and in order to follow that, we had to be able to adjust, identify issues and figure out the work-arounds,” Stout said.
Student Natasha Jameson-Randolph, of White Plains, was in charge of flooring for the day and said her team pulled out all of the carpet for replacement.
“I was the last person to make sure everything was tight inside,” she said. The nearly 100-year-old home was hiding plenty of issues beneath its carpet. “There were lots of hindrances, so there were lots of challenges.”
Learning about those challenges is the entire point of taking on the project, Stout said.
“Construction managers get paid for getting the right people in the right place at the right time,” Stout said. “You have to know where the master carpenters are, the plumbers, everyone, and get them in the right place with the materials.
“It was a great opportunity for us to put to use the case studies and skills we were learning in class,” he added. “We were able to troubleshoot solutions, discuss cost incentives, and consider real-life business consequences and costs – all the while, working as a team and helping a neighbor in our community. It was 12 hours of skilled labor, combined with learning and fellowship.”
Jeffrey Gardiner was one of the students who volunteered last April. The 31-year-old Mechanicsville resident works full-time as a carpenter for Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and is working toward his associate’s degree. Along with his 12 years working for CCPS, Gardiner said the CSM program is teaching him how much there is to do beyond field work when it comes to construction.
“This program gave me better insight into what goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “There are all these things you don’t realize your boss is doing and dealing with, like ordering materials that range from a large equipment rental to the right kind of nails.”
Jameson-Randolph said she had ‘a decent idea’ of a lot of the little and big planning details because she owns rental properties and is a real estate analyst. She is working toward her third degree and knows that the CSM Construction Management Program is adding to the knowledge she already has, making her a well-rounded business woman with a host of new skills.
“I plan to use [my degree] to start a small business,” she said. For Jameson-Randolph, the payoff came at the end, when she said she knew she and fellow students had made someone’s life a little bit brighter.
“When you volunteer, you give of yourself and your time,” she said. “It was 12 hours from one week, but the depth of what we received was greater than that time, and we’ll all remember that. We got to shine a little light into (the homeowner’s) life.”
Student Loretta Grimes, of Marbury, wholeheartedly agreed.
“I think every person thinking of going into the construction business should participate in a program like Christmas in April,” she said. Grimes is currently working for a small construction company and will graduate with her degree in Construction Management this fall.
“Our work that single day allowed us to apply what we were learning plus make a difference in someone’s life,” she shared. “It gave us all great perspective.”
Learn more about CSM’s Construction Management Technology degree program by visiting https://catalog.csmd.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=22&poid=3892&returnto=2251.
CSM plays a significant role in shaping the local economy by educating and training the future workforce and enriching the lives of Southern Maryland residents. The Center for Trades and Energy Training (CTET), located at CSM’s Regional Hughesville Campus, provides residents direct access to specialized training in career fields that have substantial growth potential such as skilled trades.
For more information about the Center for Trades and Energy Training, visit https://www.csmd.edu/about/locations/center-for-trades-and-energy-training/.
View this video to learn more about the Regional Hughesville Campus, or visit https://www.csmd.edu/about/locations/regional-campus/.
Learn more about Rebuilding Together by visiting https://rebuildingtogether.org/history.