The Mississippi State University Building Construction Science (BCS) degree program was established by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) in 2006. The program joined the School of Architecture, Department of Art, and Interior Design Program in the College of Architecture, Art and Design – which was established in 2004.
The BCS Program stemmed from a request from the Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors in1999.
Then-School of Architecture Associate Dean Jim West (who later served as dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design from 2001-2018) was charged with the task of working to get such a program implemented. An initial planning meeting included construction industry representatives Tony Carrol and Mike Upchurch, who are still active with the program today and serve on the BCS Industry Advisory Board.
West formed a committee to gather research from many of the most recognized top construction programs across the nation. He and committee members visited the University of Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Purdue University. They further solicited information from seven other universities and spoke with leaders in the construction industry and other programs at Mississippi State – the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, College of Business, and School of Architecture.
Two questions the committee asked the programs to address were:
- If you were starting a new program, how would you do it/what do differently this time?
- What are some of the issues you feel are difficult for existing programs to address?
Some of the recurring discussions and answers to these questions were:
- Students are having difficulty understanding the interconnectivity of issues because each subject is being taught separately. For example, students need to learn how a legal issue might have an effect on the schedule and cost for a construction project.
- Programs were having trouble having flexibility, specifically with introducing new technology/new subject matters due to individual subject matters being taught by individual faculty.
The construction industry’s main goal was for students to learn how to respond to things as they happen in construction.
After the research phase, the committee decided the Building Construction Science Program at Mississippi State should be a three-part program involving teaching, research, and service in support of the Mississippi construction industry. And, it should be established as a studio-based teaching program.
“Studio seemed to provide a venue for addressing those problems in a new way,” said West.
After full state approval from IHL, the program secured significant, multiple-year funding from a private foundation that had been supportive of the college in the past, becoming one of just two studio-based programs of its kind in the nation.
The first class of 14 students was admitted in fall 2007. Islam El-Adaway was the first professor in the program, followed quickly by Chris Monson, who gave up a tenured architecture position to teach in his area of research and follow his passion. Monson’s research in studio pedagogy was nationally recognized.
“Unbeknownst to us at the beginning, he became a major resource for us and has continued that research through his Ph.D.,” said West.
- Theo Haupt (January 2009 – May 2012)
- David Lewis – Interim (June 2012 – June 2014)
- Craig Capano (July 2014 – July 2016)
- Greg Hall – Interim (August 2016– June 2018)
- George Ford (July 2018 – present)