CSU, Chico News

CIM Program Director Named One of Five Most Influential People in Concrete Industry

Date: 02-20-2013

Bill Palmer
Hanley Wood LLC
Kacey Gardner, editorial assistant
CSU, Chico Public Affairs

Tanya Komas, associate professor and director of the Concrete Industry Management program (CIM) at California State University, Chico, has been named one of the five most influential people in the concrete industry by Concrete Construction magazine, published by Hanley Wood LLC.

Komas was recognized on Feb. 5, 2013, during the World of Concrete’s annual trade show in Las Vegas for her work with the CSU, Chico CIM program and its Alcatraz Island Field School. The trade show was attended by 55,000 people this year.

The Concrete Industry Management program is changing the face of the concrete industry by bringing in bright young people from four schools spread across the country — CSU, Chico, Texas State, Middle Tennessee State University and New Jersey Institute of Technology. CSU, Chico’s program, which represents the entire West Coast, is one program that is taking a particularly innovative approach.

Komas says that the thing she likes to tout about the CIM program is how prepared students are at the end of their four years.

“The industry needs young people who can jump in on the big issues; move straight into jobs and careers in the industry,” she said. “As CIM graduates they have the ability to make change happen quickly. They have found their passion for concrete in college, they are already familiar with industry leaders, and they know that this is what they want to do.”

Every CIM graduate is required to complete a summer internship program within the concrete industry. Four years ago when the construction economy turned bad, finding summer internships became a challenge. Komas had done research on historical concrete structures at Normandy Beach in France, which led to an invitation to do repair work on Alcatraz Island.

“With a National Park Service grant, plus support from BASF, we were able to give five students an internship that included a stipend for the summer,” she said.

The Preservation Field School at Alcatraz Island has continued now for three summers as a 10-week full-time job.

“This is unique because there are no easy answers when combining academic/industry best practices, introducing cutting-edge repair materials and methods to 100-year-old concrete, and the fact that Alcatraz is a National Historic Landmark with all the requirements that go along with that,” Komas said. “The students have to be prepared to think on their feet and perform every day. There’s no one standing there telling the students what to do. They have to operate and are held accountable at every level from project planning and implementation, to talking with visitors to the island, of which there are about 5,500 per day, to moving materials onto and around the island. It’s real-world—they have to make decisions and be prepared to defend the results.”

The CSU, Chico CIM program currently has about 50 students.

“One of the truly unique things about the CIM program is the industry connection,” she said. “Every graduate is a potential industry leader and their employers are potential patrons for the program. We’ve had several patrons join our partnership because of a student that they hired. We’ve kept a focus on high quality, personal responsibility, accountability, and uncompromising results.”

And it goes both ways. Komas and the other CIM directors really care about the students. Nearly all CIM students find jobs in the industry—there’s a real demand for them.

“I know that when they get a job, their first call will be their parents and their second call will be to me,” Komas said.

For further information, contact Bill Palmer at 773-494-4619 or wpalmer@hanleywood.com