Robert G. Hunt (right) speaks with Jennifer Bott, dean of the Miller College of Business, outside of the new center at Ball State.
Robert G. Hunt (right) speaks with Jennifer Bott, dean of the Miller College of Business, outside of the new center at Ball State.

As the nation’s construction industry becomes more complex, with highly skilled managers in short supply, Ball State has created a center to prepare its students for the rapidly expanding field.

The university recently dedicated the high-tech Robert G. Hunt Center for Construction Management, a 2,500-square-foot facility designed to replicate the office environment found at major construction management organizations. The center will help to foster teamwork, says James Jones, a construction management professor.

“Now more than ever, students must work collaboratively as part of highly complex teams,”Jones said. “Our students are learning the skills needed to become proficient managers who can guide multimillion-dollar projects from concept to completion on time and within budget."

Employment for construction managers is projected to grow a total of 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to expected industry growth, there will be a growing need to fill vacancies due to baby boomers retiring. Ball State’s program had a 100 percent placement rate in 2015, with recent graduates starting at an average salary of $53,000.

The facility’s primary use will be for the program’s capstone course, which focuses on students working in four-member teams on a construction project. Each team will have its own physical office space for the duration of the course. Students will have around-the-clock access to the center to work on assignments. The center’s name honors the program’s strongest supporters, Diane and Robert G. Hunt, ’69. Robert is CEO of Hunt Construction Group, a builder of sports facilities and convention centers.

The new facility is being embraced by students and faculty and is catching the eye of campus visitors, Jones said.

“In the last several weeks, we have had quite a few potential students and their parents walk through the facility, and they are immediately taken by it,” he said. “We think that not only will the center improve the educational opportunities for our students but also play a major role in recruiting in the coming years.”