Concrete Industry Management

Concrete Industry Management Program Receives $300,000 Gift

Faculty and staff from Chico State's Concrete Industry Management Program and University President Gayle Hutchinson welcome donor Doug Guerrero as he donates $300,000 to help renovate a concrete lab.Jessica Bartlett / University Photographer

A Chico State University training program received a $300,000 gift Friday, but it wasn’t just out of the kindness of the donors’ hearts.

The university’s Concrete Industry Management Program was given the money, because the concrete industry depends on the graduates the program produces. It’s an investment in a talent pipeline.

“We were doing a lousy job of replacing ourselves,” said Doug Guerrero, a Chico State alumnus who’s a founder of the Chico Concrete Industry Management Patrons. “We didn’t have a program to create the managers we needed. It’s a huge industry.”

So the Chico patrons group was formed 12 years ago. Its members range from national companies, to mom-and-pop operations, like a ready-mix company in Mount Shasta that just joined.

Since it formed, the patrons have helped get $5 million steered to the Chico State program, to upgrade facilities, provide scholarships, and support student development

The program is one of just four in the nation, and combines technical training in what you can do and can’t do with concrete, with a business management minor. The program is highly respected nationwide, and virtually all of the graduates are hired straight out of school. “They know Chico State students are well trained and work ready,” Guerrero said of the industry.

The patrons provided $150,000 of the grant received Friday. The other $150,000 came from the CIM National Steering Committee. The university will kick in another $228,000 to rebuild a 60-year-old concrete lab in Langdon Hall to a state-of-the-art facility.

University President Gayle Hutchinson praised the leadership and philanthropy of the patrons and the steering committee as “second to none,” upon receiving the check. “I hope we can replicate this partnership with other programs.”

The short ceremony took place in a lab that had been renovated in 2016 with help of the partnership. Pallets of concrete sacks rested on the floor, and cement mixers were just part of the classroom equipment.

In an adjoining room, students conducted a stress test on a concrete cylinder with a machine the partnership had purchased 10 years back to replace old hydraulic presses. Guerrero said it was the second in the nation at the time, and they’d gotten it for the training program for $300,000, when they were going to industry in the $750,000-$800,000 range.

“We got a really good deal,” he said. “They wanted to get them out there.”

One thing the current facility does not have is a kiln, which will be part of the refurbished lab, slated to be open by fall 2019. That’s important to student Eliana Aguilar, who said one was needed for one of the experiments she was part of this year.

The experiment involved making concrete with cow manure ash, rather than cement. Really.

Students went out to the University Farm to collect poop, brought it back to campus and dried it, then went back to the farm to burn it, then down First Street to the new Arts and Humanities Building to run it through the pottery kilns there. They won’t have to make that last haul when the new lab is built.

The resulting product came out with a consistency about like cement, according to Aguilar, and, “It worked really well.”

Coming soon to a home improvement store near you, perhaps.