CSU, Chico News

Concrete Industry Management Students Help Create 9/11 Firefighters Memorial

Date: 01-28-2010

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Tanya Komas
Concrete Industry
Management program

Students from California State University, Chico’s Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program will help build a memorial next week to honor firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 disaster in New York City.

Seventeen CSU, Chico students attending the annual World of Concrete trade show and conference in Las Vegas will help erect two eight-foot towers inscribed with the names of 56 fallen firefighters on a special reflective concrete exterior.

The captain of the firehouse at 48th and 8th Streets in New York will be traveling to Las Vegas to witness the building of the memorial at the World of Concrete event. On September 11, 2001, the firehouse lost two companies, including the men and women on duty for Ladder 4, Engine 54 and Battalion 9.

The memorial will be later reassembled and installed in a memorial park across the street from the firehouse in New York as part of 9/11 10th anniversary events in 2011.

“Our students are very excited to be taking part in this project. As young college students, 9/11 was one of the most significant national events in their collective memory, making this a highly personal and special experience for them,” said Tanya Komas, director of CSU, Chico’s CIM program. “This is who Chico State students are – many took part in the Catalyst Blitz Build, and they embrace projects to help others without any hesitation.”

More than 200 volunteers helped build two transitional housing units in Chico for Catalyst Domestic Violence Services this month, including CIM students who poured the concrete slabs for the houses, with help from faculty, CIM patrons and industry advisers.

The memorial was the idea of Ed Gruetzner, a firefighter who retired from the New York City Fire Department four months before 9/11 and lost many friends in the tragedy. Several months ago, Gruetzner, now an accomplished decorative concrete installer, discussed the idea of a memorial with Mike Eastergard, owner of PreiTech Corporation, a manufacturer of forms for the building and concrete industry and a supporter of CIM programs. Eastergard volunteered his custom concrete form expertise and suggested that they work with CIM students to create the memorial during the 2010 World of Concrete event.

A featured part of the World of Concrete is to display the decorative artistry possible with concrete. CSU, Chico’s CIM program is the first among the five CIM programs in the country to offer a decorative concrete class. Komas, who taught the class, is currently writing a textbook on the subject with industry expert Clark Branam. “The decorative concrete course has been very popular with our students because it offers a rich blend of technical knowledge and creative development in a semester-long, hands-on environment,” she said.

Komas said the idea of working on the memorial was quickly embraced at CSU, Chico and by the CIM program at Middle Tennessee State University. Student teams from both schools will work on project starting Monday, Feb. 1, continuing through Feb. 3. The teams will participate in events honoring firefighters and presenting the memorial on Thursday, Feb. 4.

The memorial features two simple vertical forms representing the silhouette of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. A highly reflective, faceted surface will display the names of 56 firefighters who died.

Students at both universities are working with the concrete mix and creating sample panels prior to traveling to Las Vegas. At the show, the students will perform all of the concrete work, including forming, mixing and placing the concrete, erecting the completed panels, dismantling the memorial at the end of the event and carefully crating it in specially designed foam forms for shipment to New York.

Gruetzner, Eastergard, faculty from both schools, and many others from the decorative concrete industry, including Hanley Wood, sponsors of World of Concrete, will be on hand to advise the students and provide expertise during the project.

World of Concrete is an international event that attracts approximately 1,600 exhibitors each year to Las Vegas, occupies more than 800,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space and draws 65,000-80,000 attendees each year.

Komas as well as two other faculty members, Tim Hostettler and Jeff Seyfried, and College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management Dean Mike Ward will accompany the students to the World of Concrete event. Komas said student and faculty travel costs to Las Vegas are being paid for by the Chico State CIM Patrons.

The CIM program began offering classes at CSU, Chico in fall 2007. It is a multidisciplinary program that prepares students for careers in the concrete industry, which has expanded and diversified greatly in recent years. Last year, the Patrons Board reported that CSU, Chico’s CIM Program had reached the $1 million mark in private support just three years after coming into existence.