STEPHENVILLE — The computer-aided design lab in the Engineering building at Tarleton State University was recently named the Bartlett Cocke General Contractors Construction Technologies Lab following a donation by the Texas-based general contracting firm.
Bartlett Cocke’s support of the Construction Science and Management program has been spear-headed by Tarleton graduate Randall Jay, the company’s Vice President of Field Operations, who recognized great things in this program several years ago.
The Construction Science and Management program began in 2015 and is part of the Engineering Technology Department.
“In 2015 I heard Tarleton was developing a construction science department with plans to offer a degree in it,” Jay said. “I graduated from Tarleton in 1993 with a degree in business. If there had been a construction science department back then, that’s something I would have been a part of.”
He contacted the university when he heard of the coming Construction Science and Management program, planning to involve his employer from an early stage.
“We started going to career fairs in Stephenville in 2015. There were only about three kids in the department then who were working toward that degree. Our HR director went to the career fair with me, and she asked, ‘What are we doing? There’s nobody here.’ I told her, ‘Mark my words, the demographics of Tarleton State University lean toward this type of degree. It will explode.”
He was right.
Tarleton’s Construction Science and Management program has boomed, now producing over 25 graduates a year. Over 180 students are enrolled.
The university has initiated its own Construction Industry Advisory Council, following the lead of Texas A&M, Texas State University and UT San Antonio. Bartlett Cocke is active in those CIACs and brought some fundraising ideas to the Tarleton group.
The company began negotiations after learning that Tarleton offers naming opportunities as a means of support. The donation is set up to promote student learning experiences in the Construction Science and Management program.
“Instead of just a nameplate on the outside of the lab, we are able to put up pictures of buildings we’ve built with our logo on the pictures. There are eight in the room and one in the hallway in front of the lab,” Jay said. Included in the pictures are Tarleton interns and graduates working at Bartlett Cocke.
“I am so thankful for the generosity of Bartlett Cocke,” said Dr. Denise Martinez, Associate Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at Tarleton. “Our construction science and management students are very active and very successful in national-level student competitions, and this will be a huge support for that.
“These activities distinguish the Tarleton experience and prepare our graduates to get out there and do great things. Randall has helped connect us to recruiting activities, mentored interns, participated in job fairs, provided program guidance — he really sets a fine example of alumni commitment to Tarleton.
Bartlett Cocke previously partnered with Tarleton, sponsoring a booth for engineering technologies students to attend and recruit at the San Antonio Stock Show last year. The company annually brings on summer interns with an eye toward permanent employment.
“Our new hires are about 80 percent from our interns,” Jay said. “We hire from A&M, UTSA, Tarleton and Texas State. This last year we had more success with our interns out of Tarleton than we did out of the bigger programs. That’s a big deal for a department in only its sixth year.
“We try to hire from small towns and communities because we know those kids are problem solvers.”