Mississippi State Building Construction Science students in Professor Michele Herrmann’s fourth-year studio recently toured Gulf States Manufacturers, a Nucor Company, in Starkville.
Chris Ratzlaff, a recent BCS graduate and now a project coordinator at Gulf States, invited the group in order to help them get a better understanding of pre-engineered metal buildings.
“I wanted y’all to be able to see some of the things that I didn’t get to,” Ratzlaff told the students.
Before the tour, the group was introduced to several employees at Gulf States that each left the students with some good advice.
Mark Phillips, a detailing supervisor, explained that the company uses AutoCad for their model drawings but said that is quickly being replaced with a new program – Tekla.
“My suggestion,” he said, “is to get all the information you can on Tekla because it is the future of metal buildings.”
Ratzlaff added that Tekla is similar to what the BCS students are using in their studios now – Revit – but that it is just more advanced. He said it allows for faster changes to be made from an architect. He said what would have taken a few weeks now takes days.
Charlie Swanson explained that his division of Nucor designs, details, fabricates and delivers steel buildings. Swanson said he usually starts new hires in detailing because that route gives employees a chance to move up quickly in the company because “you will actually understand how buildings go together.”
Swanson then told the students one major thing he wanted them to learn from their visit. He explained that “pre-engineered” is misleading when describing metal buildings.
“Nothing is pre-engineered,” he said. “We engineer everything. They are custom engineered with our standards.”
Swanson then explained that in order to mass-produce metal buildings for a lower cost, they have set up standards they follow, and he gave the BCS students some advice on how to avoid a headache in the future – pay close attention to the specifications and compare them to the qualified bid for a metal building.
Next, Swanson explained the importance the company places on safety. He said when he conducts interviews, he always asks about safety.
“Everyone gives a really good answer, but they don’t give the right reason,” he said, explaining that most candidates mention the business and financial impacts of not being safe.
However, Swanson said, “We are safe for our families,” and he went over the rules to stay safe in the plant before splitting the group up for their tours.