BCS seniors visit Denver

March 9th, 2018 Comments Off on BCS seniors visit Denver

Photos and story by Regan Horn, senior BCS student

Senior students in the Building Construction Science Program at Mississippi State University participated in a field trip to Denver, Colo., the week of Feb. 19. This was part of an annual field trip week in which students from the BCS Program travel to metropolitan areas to meet with construction professionals, visit construction sites and observe urban environments.

Eighteen students in BCS 4126 Building Construction Studio 6 (taught by Assistant Professor Michele Herrmann) traveled to Denver with Visiting Associate Professor George Martin. This group was able to visit the following sites:

  • Charles Hay Elementary School (Fransen Pittman)
    • Hosted by: John White, Burns Morrison, and Jacob Miles
  • Clayton Elementary School (Fransen Pittman)
    • Hosted by: John White, Burns Morrison, and Steve Gilmor
  • Colorado State Capitol Building (Fransen Pittman)
    • Hosted by: John White, Burns Morrison, and Rich Mendez
  • Water Treatment Facility (Garney Construction)
    • Hosted by: Jefferson Lewis and Adam Theriault
  • Lockheed Martin Satellite Production Facility (Hensel Phelps)
    • Hosted by: Jonathan Couch

Activities such as site visits and meetings with professionals have a significant positive and long lasting impact on students. In addition to increasing the relevance of information addressed in the BCS curriculum, site visits and meetings with professionals provide additional reference points that faculty incorporate in studio projects and discussions. These experiences also expose students to the variety of career paths and professional opportunities available to them.

The BCS Program is committed to increasing the scope and value of educational experiences for its students by engaging with professionals; achieving this goal would not be possible without the generous time and commitment of many individuals, companies, organizations and institutes who supported and hosted BCS students during the 2018 spring field trip.

First-year building construction science students present tiny house frames

November 30th, 2017 Comments Off on First-year building construction science students present tiny house frames

First-year building construction science students – led by Assistant Professor Lee Carson and College of Architecture, Art and Design Dean Jim West – spent the semester working on several projects that prepared them and led up to the design and construction of two tiny house frames, one steel and one wood.

The students presented their work in front of classmates and several invited guests, including MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner, on Wed., Nov. 29.

When constructing the concrete foundation for both tiny houses, students learned in a hands-on manner about the nature of concrete, foundation systems, construction drawings and a quantity take off. 

The structural frames portion of the project taught them about the properties of steel and wood structural frames, framing assembly techniques, job management, basic spatial layout designs and basic design decisions.

Important lessons were learned during the construction process about the value of working together as a team and communication.

Next semester, students will continue to learn about more of the construction process through further work on the tiny houses.

Watch the video with Assistant Professor Lee Carson explaining the projects:

Watch the video of two students explaining the steel frame construction process:

BCS hosts lecture on arbitration in the construction industry

November 20th, 2017 Comments Off on BCS hosts lecture on arbitration in the construction industry

By Regan Horn | BCS senior

Starting off a series of lectures for the Building Construction Science Program, George C. Martin Jr. (president, Construction Management Inc. of Virginia and partner, Martin Industrial Park Venture LLC) presented on the topic of arbitration on Oct. 27.

In his lecture titled, Alternative Dispute Resolution: Arbitration and Mediation in the Construction Industry, Martin discussed the other option of resolution in the industry.

Typically, BCS students do not learn about arbitration, mitigation and litigation until their senior year in the Professional Communication & Practice course; however, Martin’s lecture provided an insight into the world of dispute resolution for all BCS students.

Topics that were discussed during the lecture included what is arbitration, what are the benefits of arbitration and who is an arbitrator.

After the lecture, Martin was able to talk more with the seniors in Assistant Professor Michele Herrmann’s fourth-year studio about more detailed information on arbitration.

Martin has more than 35 years’ experience as a construction management professional including general contracting, property development, construction management and construction consulting. His construction career began with work on projects as a carpenter during school breaks throughout high school and college. He entered general contracting following completing a degree in architecture from The Catholic University of America. Initially, he was involved in estimating tasks and had the opportunity to complete design work while also serving as a construction engineering officer with the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Martin has served as project manager on a wide variety of projects including shopping centers, churches, schools, industrial, multi-family housing, medical and institutional and government facilities. Following a period of greater responsibility for acquiring new work, he assumed presidency of a general contracting firm and founded a new entity specifically focused on construction management. While continuing to perform general contracting work, he directed the focus of the business towards construction management. He currently serves as both construction manager and construction consultant for a variety of clients including utility companies (Pepco – 20 years), surety, private owners and institutions. As both constructor and consultant, he was involved in numerous claims recovery, adversarial and mediation proceedings.

BCS 3213 class visits Starkville Electric Department Warehouse

November 18th, 2017 Comments Off on BCS 3213 class visits Starkville Electric Department Warehouse

Via Edward Kemp

The BCS 3213 class visited the Starkville Electric Department Warehouse on Nov. 16.

The group was led by Tommy Sullivan, manager of engineering and operations, and Jason Horner, systems engineer.

While visiting, the class discussed the Starkville Electric Department’s processes and the contractor’s responsibilities of installation and energizing an electric service to a building. The students were shown many different types of transformers, meters, cabling, insulators, switches, fuses and breakers that are typically utilized by a utility company for power distribution to customers.

The group also viewed the city’s primary substation and discussed its importance and function in the local power supply.

BCS students participate in ASC competition

November 16th, 2017 Comments Off on BCS students participate in ASC competition

By Regan Horn, BCS senior

Each year, the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) hosts a competition that challenges students to prepare and present a proposal to a problem statement in less than 48 hours.

This year, the Building Construction Science Program helped prepare a competition team to compete in the Design Build category of the competition. The team consisted of Hunter Bullock (2nd year), Regan Horn (4th year), Cora Howell (4th year), Kacie Lynn James (2nd year), Robert Montoux (2nd year) and Harrison Walker (4th year). The faculty coaches were Visiting Associate Professor George Martin and Assistant Professor Saeed Rokooei. The Lemoine Company sponsored the teams for the second year.

The Region 2 competition was held Oct. 24-26 in Peachtree City, Ga.

The problem statement for the Design Build competition was to create a parking garage that could house 1,500 parking spots, a baseball and soccer field, as well as be created into a completely new building in 10-15 years. This year’s team presented a well thought-out and detailed plan of a mass timber parking garage, impressing the judges with the plan’s innovation. 

Each year, there is also an opportunity for younger students to participate in a shadow competition. They are given a similar but smaller project and asked to complete it in one working day. The only difference is the students are placed into groups with students from other universities. The Mississippi State students that participated as shadows were Tori Thompson, Jalyn Wallin, John McMahon, Chris Sharp and Bobby Fatherree. The shadow team that Tori Thompson was a part of placed first in the shadow competition.

BCS students follow condo construction progress

November 15th, 2017 Comments Off on BCS students follow condo construction progress

Via Edward Kemp

Building construction science students in Edward Kemp’s building systems course (BCS 3213) visited the Guest Drive condominium project site this week as a followup to their visit last month.

Students looked at construction progress related to the electrical, plumbing and water components of the project.

They were joined by Joyner Williams, chief building official for the city of Starkville. 

In addition to observing construction progress, Williams explained the building department review and inspection process in the city of Starkville.



BCS class visits Starkville condominium project

October 24th, 2017 Comments Off on BCS class visits Starkville condominium project

Students from the Building Construction Science (BCS) program at Mississippi State University recently went on a site visit to observe electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems for an eight-unit condominium project in Starkville.

Joyner Williams, chief building official for the city of Starkville, and representatives from Morgan Construction Company guided students through the project and discussed construction details with the students.

The group will visit the site again in a few weeks to see the construction progress.

The students are enrolled in a class on building systems (BCS 3213) led by Professor Edward Kemp that is part of the Bachelor of Science in Building Construction Management at MSU.

MSU building construction science students participate in fall 2017 field trips

October 19th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU building construction science students participate in fall 2017 field trips

Students in the Building Construction Science (BCS) Program at Mississippi State University participated in field trips to Chicago, Ill., and Washington, D.C., in late September. These were part of an annual field trip week in which students from the BCS Program and the School of Architecture travel to metropolitan areas to meet with construction professionals, visit construction sites and observe urban environments.

Chicago: First-Year and Third-Year Studios

For the 2017 fall field trips, 39 first-year students in BCS 1116 Building Construction Studio A joined 25 third-year students in BCS 3116 Building Construction Studio 3 to travel to Chicago with Assistant Clinical Professor Lee Carson, Assistant Professor Saeed Rokooei and Interim Director and Associate Dean Greg Hall.

This group visited the following sites:

Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center
Northwestern University – Chicago Campus
Hosted by: Bennett and Brosseau Roofing, Power Construction

  • The visit to the construction site of the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center provided an opportunity for students to observe an addition of a 600,000 square-foot, 14-story building adjacent to existing buildings on Northwestern University’s Chicago campus. Rob Chase, project superintendent with Power Construction, and George Patterson, president of Bennett and Brosseau Roofing, guided students on a detailed tour of the project and answered questions about the building’s design and construction. Of particular interest were the challenges of building within a confined urban site and coordinating subcontractors and specific trades throughout the project schedule – particularly in relation to site access, conveying systems and inclement weather.

Chicago Testing Laboratory and Gallagher Asphalt Plant
Hosted by: Chicago Testing Laboratory, Gallagher Asphalt

  • The Chicago Testing Laboratory in Thornton, Ill., allowed students to see the testing processes for asphalt and its components. At the adjacent Gallagher Asphalt plant, students observed materials being processed, asphalt production and loading into trucks for transport to sites. Vice President Jay Miller and his colleagues at Chicago Testing Laboratory and Chief Operating Officer Daniel Gallagher of Gallagher Asphalt outlined the asphalt production and testing processes.

Joliet Transportation Center
Hosted by: Joliet City Engineer, Lisa Dorothy; T.Y. Lin International

  • The Joliet Transportation Center is a multimodal mass transit center in downtown Joliet. The center will eventually connect local commuter rail lines with Amtrak passenger rail lines and passenger bus routes. Discussions with City Engineer Lisa Dorothy and engineers and project managers from T.Y. Lin International helped students understand the complexity of building within a restricted site and coordinating construction with operating rail lines.

(photos via JD Staten, third year BCS student)
Jane Byrne Interchange Project
Hosted by: Illinois Department of Transportation

  • BCS visited the Illinois Department of Transportation, and students were given the details of a major interchange in the Chicago area – the Jane Byrne Interchange Project. The goal of the project is to create a safer and more efficient transportation interchange. While portions of the project are still under construction, many remodels of the bridges and overpasses have already been completed. Building construction science students were escorted through the project and shown which sections were currently under construction.

 UL LLC Testing Laboratory
Hosted by: UL LLC

  • In addition to site visits, the field trip included visits to testing laboratories. At UL LLC in Northbrook, students observed material, product and components being tested for impact and fire as well as the labs that test them for water and air infiltration, wind resistance and other forces. Students discussed the UL Certification process with Anish Chacko and learned about the history of testing and certification as well as the important role of certification in the building industry.

Millennium Park Tour
Hosted by: Millennium Park Foundation

  • Through the Millennium Park Foundation, building construction science students toured Millennium Park, one of the most iconic landmarks in Chicago. It houses the famous Cloud Gate Sculpture (the Bean Sculpture) and is home of one of the most advanced outdoor concert arenas in the nation. While sightseeing the park, the group discussed some of the logistics of maintaining such a beautiful outdoor area in the heart of one of the biggest cities in America. They discussed issues such as funding, maintenance and stakeholders involved with the decision making of a city park.

Mudd Hall Renovation and Expansion
Northwestern University – Evanston
Hosted by: The Walsh Group

  • Mudd Hall is an active building for students at Northwestern University in Evanston, and it was undergoing a renovation on the top floors by The Walsh Group when the BCS student arrived. Renovating the building while it was still in use created many challenges for the team, one of which was noise constraints. The project also had many special construction constraints required for lab facilities. These unique scenarios were of great interest to the students, and they learned a lot on the topic.

Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center
Northwestern University – Evanston
Hosted by: The Walsh Group

  • The Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center at Northwestern University in Evanston really interested students because of the facilities it held. The Walsh Group is completing the project that will be home to an indoor practice field with an enormous waterfront view of Lake Michigan. It was also home to many other sports locker rooms, training facilities and management offices. The project was at a great point for viewing the structure of the facility. Students related well to the project team members who escorted the group through the project.

Vista Tower
Hosted by: James McHugh Construction Company

  • Vista Tower in Chicago is a 93-story, mixed-use tower that will include a 5-star hotel with 192 guest rooms, 406 luxury condominiums, parking and retail with a cost close to $1 billion. Brandon Bortoli and Joel Kuna with James McHugh Construction Co. led three groups around the jobsite, looking at four main parts:
  1. Wall System: The groups was shown a wall mockup of the glass and aluminum curtain wall system that was constructed to test constructability issues and to allow the owner and architect to view aesthetic qualities. Another mockup of the same system was also being built off site to test performance issues of air and water infiltration.
  2. Mechanical Systems:. Students had a discussion with the project engineers who were checking the design of the mechanical systems. They showed the groups how utilities were being brought into the building and run around the temporary hoists that are used to get people and materials up and down during construction. They were utilizing BIM software to check for clashes and redesign the systems.  The BIM software allows the engineers to visualize how all systems are coordinated.
  3. Concrete Structure: The first day, two groups were given a tour of the construction of the concrete structure of the building. The morning group was able to see concrete being placed on one of the floor slabs. The group who came in the afternoon was able to see them finishing the slab. At the same time, another crew started placing formwork for the next level on top of the slab that was just poured.  This allowed the students to see the coordination of several crews and the fast pace of the process.    
  4. Sales Center: The groups first looked at a physical model of the tower in its context.  Then, they were shown on a large touch screen displaying the details of the condominiums they were selling. A potential buyer can easily navigate photo renderings of the interiors, floor plans, the view from the selected condo and other information about each of the condos.  The sales center even had a full-scale mockup of one of the units including the kitchen, bathroom and living space. Students were especially impressed with the living space, which housed wall-to-wall LCD screens displaying the view out of the selected condo with options to change the time of day on the views.  


Charlottesville and Knoxville: Second-Year (Collaborative) Studio

Thirty-eight second-year students in BCS 2116 Building Construction Studio 2 traveled to Washington, D.C., with Visiting Associate Professor George Martin and Lecturer Briar Jones along with 44 second-year architecture students and their professors. The construction students made stops in Charlottesville, Va., and Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to visiting five construction sites and projects and meeting with over seven construction professionals, the students visited museums and explored the metropolitan areas of the cities to make the most of their field trip experience.


  • The students had a guided tour of Thomas Jefferson’s majestic home, Monticello (Little Mountain).  In preparation for the visit, students read a portion of Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder by Jack Mclaughlin and conducted research of the varied building trades, tools and practices of the era.  They were additionally prepared for understanding the primary building material (brick) with an informative lecture on the history of brick masonry construction by Dr. John Beaty.

University of Virginia Lawn Tour

  • As a follow on to the visit to Jefferson’s home, the students then took a brief walking tour of the major effort of the latter half of Jefferson’s life – the University of Virginia campus.  Approaching alongside the Rotunda, students noticed the similarities between Jefferson’s home and the figural building of his academical village. They likewise observed the unique use of construction materials such as iron tension rods and the single wythe serpentine brick walls that frame the gardens behind the pavilions.

National Building Museum

  • The first stop in Washington was the National Building Museum, formally known as the Old Pension Building.  Designed and engineered by U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs in 1882-87 to serve veterans of the Civil War, this brick masonry building has inventive approaches to both passive cooling and handicap accessibility unusual for its time.

 National Mall

Washington National Cathedral

  • A morning visit to The Washington National Cathedral included a guided tour of what is undoubtedly the last true medieval-gothic structure ever built. Construction on the cathedral commenced in 1907 and was completed in 1990.  The structure is true stone masonry construction and was built in a fashion similar to those employed by stone masons in the middle ages, albeit with modern advantages such as the use of heavy equipment and steel as opposed to timber as a roof structure.  Students were able to observe the challenges of load bearing masonry, with veneer and structure being the same element and noticed the difficulties of moisture penetration in non-cavity walls.

The International Spy Museum – Construction Site Visit

  • The (new) International Spy Museum tour was hosted by the project owner/developer JBG Smith Companies. An initial project introduction was given by Senior Construction Managers Jon Brunelle and Peter Clark followed by a tour of the construction site. Also attending were JBG Smith’s Vice President for Design and Construction Andrew Griffin and Senior Associate Bryan Chun (architect of record) for Hickok Cole Architects. Design architect for the project is Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners of London, England. Students learned about the complexities of construction in a busy and restricted urban site and the challenges of working with a high profile name architect on a high dollar value building. Chun also introduced students to the integration of various building systems and, in particular, the complex fire suppression and life safety features.
    • “This site visit was very interesting. We were taken around by the architect and contractor and shown all parts of this structure. We were told about many design challenges that the owner requested as well as how both the contractor and architect overcame these issues. It was very interesting to hear how both teams collaborated to find the best solution for the owner.” – Hunter Bullock, second- year BCS student

Mixed-Use Development Projects – Construction Site Visit

  • Next, students took the Metro a couple of stops to new, mixed-use development projects being undertaken by JBG Smith adjacent to the Washington Nationals Ball Park. The tour was provided by JBG Smith’s PJ Bautista and representatives of Clark Construction. Students were introduced here to classic Washington building – tight floor-to-floor cast in place, post-tensioned concrete construction – well known in D.C. due to the city’s height limitation and desire to get as much useable floor space as possible. The students were led through condo units in various stages of construction and introduced to the punch list process by seeing a unit peppered with the architect’s stickers with correction or replacement notations.

Cannon House Office – Congressional Offices – Construction Site Visit

  • The Cannon Congressional Office Building is in the midst of a several-year, phased, renovation project.  BCS students were guests of Architect of the Capitol’s Justin Kieffer. The tour began with an introduction to and presentation of the work of the Architect of the Capitol by Director Peter Mueller and members of his staff. Students received a presentation on the scope of the work and the difficulties in undertaking construction operations in a secure building that is required to remain open during construction.

United States Capitol

  • Following the Congressional Office visit, students walked across the street for a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol.  Entering through the new Visitor’s Center at the lower level, students were guided through the political, artistic and architectural history of this great American building. Upon arriving on the main level under the great dome in Statuary Hall, students brushed within feet of Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain giving an interview to reporters.

 Associated General Contractors Meeting at the National Headquarters

  • The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) hosted a meet-and-greet for the students at their National Headquarters in Arlington, Va. The meeting was organized by Associate Director of the Building Division Paige Packard and commenced with a welcome by AGC CEO Steve Sandherr, who discussed the importance of industry associations and their current work in the development of ADG-authored standard contracts for construction. Following this were presentations by Christie Beatty (Executive Director of Chapter Services), Jordan Howard (Director of Federal and Heavy Construction), Brian Deery (Director of Highway and Transportation Division) and Fara Francis (Chief Information Officer) on the use of new technologies in building design and construction. The final presentation was by Courtney Bishop (Associate Director, Education Foundation) who informed students about access to AGC scholarships and energetically invited them to apply.

Museum of the Bible – Construction Site Visit

  • The Museum of the Bible – designed by SmithGroupJJR and built by Clark Construction – was the final construction site visit of a very busy day. A tour of the museum, set to open in a month’s time of the visit, was provided by Clark Construction’s Project Manager Tara Earley. In addition to providing an informative walkthrough of this soon-to-be-completed project, Earley gave the students a valuable glimpse into the life of a young project manager and a sense of a day-in-the-life. Her professionalism and enthusiasm for the construction industry spoke well for Clark Construction and the caliber of people they are able to attract.
    • “This was by far my favorite part. We were able to see the almost complete structure and hear about the many different issues that the contractor ran into during construction. The ending product is the most technologically advanced museum in the world. Every detail of the project was well thought out and designed so that the longevity of the building could be reached.” – Hunter Bullock, second-year BCS student

 Sacred Heart Cathedral Knoxville – Construction Site Visit

  • The trip’s final visit was to the new Cathedral of Knoxville, Tenn., Sacred Heart Cathedral. The project was an interesting complement to the students’ visit to the National Cathedral. Unlike the WNC, Sacred Heart has a traditional (Renaissance) design by Architect James McCrery (McCrery Architects) but is a modern building. Cavity wall systems, vapor barriers, thermal assemblies, mechanical, electrical systems, not to mention modern building methods were used to realize this traditional design. Following an introduction on sacred space and modern building by Fr. David Boettner of the Diocese of Knoxville, Architect Mickey Sutliff (architect of record) of BARBERMcMURRY BMA showed the students around the site and provided stories of some of the creative construction solutions used to realize a style of design that was created using very different means in the past. The project is being built by Merit Construction.

Additional photos from the trip:

(D.C. images via Hunter Bullock and George Martin)

Activities such as site visits and meetings with professionals have a significant positive and long lasting impact on students. In addition to increasing the relevance of information addressed in the BCS curriculum, site visits and meetings with professionals provide additional reference points that faculty incorporate in studio projects and discussions. These experiences also expose students to the variety of career paths and professional opportunities available to them.

The BCS Program is committed to increasing the scope and value of educational experiences for its students by engaging with professionals; achieving this goal would not be possible without the generous time and commitment of many individuals, companies, organizations and institutes who supported and hosted BCS students during the 2017 fall field trips.

Electrical Systems class tours Old Main Academic Center

September 20th, 2017 Comments Off on Electrical Systems class tours Old Main Academic Center

Story and photos via Edward Kemp

The Electrical Systems (BCS 3213) class taught by Edward Kemp recently took a site visit to the newly constructed Old Main Academic Center.

The group was hosted by Associate Director of Utilities in the MSU Facilities Department, Jacob Forrester.

The primary objective of the visit was to look at constructed examples of sanitary sewer drainage, sanitary sewer venting, fire protection and storm drainage piping and systems.

BCS seniors present final projects

May 2nd, 2017 Comments Off on BCS seniors present final projects


(Story via Assistant Professor Michele Herrmann | Photos by Kelsey Brownlee)

For their final project, senior building construction science students in Assistant Professor Michele Herrmann’s class responded to a hypothetical Request for Proposals for a three-story assisted living facility.

They prepared proposals outlining the recommended cost and duration, their individual approach to the project, risk assessments, quality control plans, stormwater pollution prevention plans and three-dimensional site utilization plans.

Each student presented his or her project in a head-to-head competition against a classmate.

Students in Assistant Professor Tom Leathem and Visiting Assistant Professor Mike Duff’s second-year studio judged each pair of presentations and selected a winner.

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