Erin Williams, Middle Tennessee State University
Title: MTSU Patrons President and Board Member
Employer: Middle Tennessee State University
“The benefits these CIM graduates provide are that they are ahead of the curve when it comes to training. The CIM graduates bring new and innovative ideas to the table and continue to impress when it comes to their love of the business.”
What is your involvement in the CIM program? Why did you get involved with the program?
I am a 2006 graduate of the MTSU CIM program. I am the current MTSU Patrons President and Board Member. The patrons are a group of industry professionals, graduates and interested parties who serve as the link between the Concrete Industry and Academia. I originally got involved with the program because I was looking for a career change. I wanted to be involved in something where I could “see” the results of my work. So the concrete and concrete products industry seemed like a perfect fit. I began taking CIM classes and working for a local producer while I was in school to learn as much as possible. I chose to stay involved in the program because it is so unique. Never has there been such a joining of academia and industry. I’ve been through other programs and there is no other program that has the level of participation in an academic program as does the concrete industry.
Why have you and your company made the commitment to the CIM program? What benefits do you think it will bring to your company?
Ready Mix USA has hired nine graduates of the CIM program and will continue to hire graduates in the future. One of my job responsibilities is being the Ready Mix USA liaison for MTSU. The benefits these CIM graduates provide are that they are ahead of the curve when it comes to training. These graduates know the basics of the concrete products industry, meaning they can hit the ground running. The CIM graduates bring new and innovative ideas to the table and continue to impress when it comes to their love of the business.
What are your thoughts about the industry/academic partnership between CIM and its industry partners and patrons?
Again, this is a unique program. Dr. McPhee and those presidents of MTSU before him see the opportunity this program has to be expanded into other industries. Before this program, companies would have hired people with degrees such as Business or Accounting, then spend the next three years training them about the business. The turnover for the companies was astronomical. The CIM program provides graduates with a basic understanding of business, but more importantly the concrete business. Because of the industry involvement, students are able to get hands-on experience, do a summer internship with companies in the concrete industry and learn the day-to-day operations of their business. The patrons are the intermediary group between the students and the industry. The patrons are people who are out in the industry, spreading the word about the CIM program and getting feedback from companies on the things that are important to them, things they want graduates to know. The patrons also meet with students to see how their experience has been during their time in the CIM program, what students like and what they would like to see improved. The patrons are also a fund raising mechanism for the CIM program. These funds supplement the school budget and provide students with opportunities outside of the classroom.