CoSci professor to lead summer program for South Texas youth

Edelmiro Escamilla

Students from predominantly Hispanic South Texas high schools will have an opportunity to learn about careers in construction management at the Construction Management Academy, a free U.S. Department of Education summer program designed and led a Texas A&M University construction science professor Edelmiro Escamilla.

Free to participants, the academy is funded by the Texas A&M Department of Construction Science and GEAR UP, a Department of Education program that aims to increase the number of students from low-income families who attend college. GEAR UP stands for gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs.

Other sponsors include Houston-based builders Marek Brothers Systems, Inc. and Hines, and additional sponsors are welcome, said Escamilla, an assistant instructional professor of construction science.

Participants can choose from seven identical five-day sessions scheduled throughout the summer. Registration will be handled by the GEAR UP office at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. For academy details or to register, contact Martha S. Treviño at 956.326.3062 for email martha@tamiu.edu.

Escamilla designed the sessions to interest high school juniors in construction management careers and familiarize them with Texas A&M’s construction education program. He will lead the seven academy sessions set for June, July and August in Laredo, Eagle Pass, Alice and La Joya. About 25 students are anticipated to enroll in each session.

By recruiting Hispanic students into the construction management programs at Texas A&M, Escamilla said, the academy is working to address a lack of diversity among construction industry managers in Texas. “Hispanics compose 60% of the state’s construction workforce, but only 8.5 percent of those are managers,” he said.

“At the academy, we’ll tell the students, most of whom would be the first in their families to attend college, about construction education at Texas A&M, what kinds of companies will hire them, what their income is likely to be, and that our graduates have 95-to-100 percent job placement rate, and more,” said Escamilla.

“Getting a degree takes time, it takes work, but with a construction science degree at Texas A&M you will learn the core competencies to succeed in a construction career and make a great living,” he said.

“We will also have a discussion with students and their parents about preparing for college, what the college experience is like and what it involves,” said Escamilla. “The academy program is designed to stoke students’ enthusiasm about going to college.”

With help from construction management students, Escamilla will introduce academy students to the basics of construction management, including estimating, scheduling, site plan reading and construction technology.

Academy students will also hear presentations by academy co-sponsors Marek Brothers Systems, Inc. and Hines.

During the program’s final two days, students and their parents will visit sponsoring construction companies’ jobsites in Houston, then travel to College Station where they will visit the Department of Construction Science’s Francis Hall headquaters, tour the university and meet with university financial aid representatives.

To inform the Construction Management Academy curriculum, Escamilla surveyed students in five predominantly Hispanic valley high schools about their plans after graduating and their perceptions of construction industry careers.

“I found that they know little about careers in the construction industry or what kind of preparation or education is requisite for their desired career path,” said Escamilla. The survey was funded by Stan Marek, chief executive officer of Marek Brothers Systems.

For more information about the academy, contact Escamilla at eescamilla@arch.tamu.edu or 979.845.4226. He is also planning academy activities with Rick Moreno, GEAR UP director, and Julio Madrigal, Texas A&M International University executive director of special programs.

posted December 14, 2015