Construction Industry Rallies to Renovate Construction Management Learning Facilities at UA Little Rock

UA Little Rock Chancellor Christy Drale, center left, and Clark Contractors CEO William Clark, center right, cut a grand opening ribbon at an event dedicating a construction management classroom on campus on Sept. 10. Photo by Ben Krain.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has unveiled a new state-of-art project management lab that will prepare construction management and civil engineering students for their future careers.

“This gift has provided a state-of-the-art Project Management Lab for teaching estimating, construction scheduling, project administration, and other construction management topics,” said Dr. Hollis “Hank” Bray, chair of the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering. “It showcases unique projects completed by Clark Contractors which employs a number of our program alumni.”

With generous support from Clark Contractors and industry partners, UA Little Rock’s new Clark Project Management Lab provides students the opportunity to gain access to a facility that reflects current industry technology.

The lab is housed on the third floor of the Engineering, Technology, and Applied Science Building at UA Little Rock. As one of the largest classrooms in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and  Construction Engineering, the newly renovated and improved Clark Project Management Lab will provide students with space for active learning, engagement, and collaboration.

“The Clark PM Lab will help to prepare the next generation of construction management and engineering professionals so that they may be better equipped to embark upon careers in the construction industry and contribute to the built community,” said William Clark, chief executive officer of Clark Contractors.

The Clark Project Management Lab is a place for students to learn current practices and will help to fill a growing need for education in construction management and engineering in all phases. Renovations began in February and were completed this summer.

The renovation of the Clark Project Management Lab is a community effort by many industry professionals. The renovated lab was remodeled to create an updated, improved learning environment. Clark Contractors provided construction management and general contracting services. They worked with Taggart Architects who provided design assistance.

UA Little Rock staff and Construction Management students participate in a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating a construction management classroom on campus. Clark Contractors helped pay for renovations to update the classroom. Photo by Ben Krain.
UA Little Rock staff and Construction Management students participate in a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the Clark Project Management Lab. Clark Contractors sponsored the lab renovation along with help from several construction industry partners in Arkansas. Photo by Ben Krain.

“One of the best parts about a building project is getting to see people interact with their new space,” said Shannon Earls, president of Clark Contractors. “We’re proud to be a part of that process for the students in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering and to provide them with a new platform for learning and engagement.”

The people and businesses who helped complete the renovation include: Meredith Davies, Brandon Ruhl, and Bill Gray of Taggart Architects; Anthony Brooks of Platinum Drywall; Jonathan Rogers of Arnold and Blevins; Eric Bailey of Bailey Paint; Kevin Perry of JCP Floorcovering Contractors, Dana Guess of PC Hardware, Sabrina Huddleston of DFI Architectural Signs, and Lucy Beth Owens of ImageWorks Commercial Interiors.

“The importance of this lab and our contribution to the design goes well beyond the physical environment,” said Brandon Ruhl, designer and project architect at Taggart Architects. “Now, more than ever, it is extremely important to invest in the education and development of our future colleagues. Without talented and knowledgeable project managers, the demand for our services, cost for materials and labor, and inflation will continue to rise. It is our hope that our investment into the Clark PM Lab at UA Little Rock will contribute to a strengthened workforce in our architecture, engineering, and construction community across the state of Arkansas.”

Renovations included removing the tiered seating, a new ceiling, paint, and LED lights, low profile power outlets, and lightweight tables and chairs. The final touch is a photo wall that features examples of the building process and finished projects that will serve as an inspiration for students.

In addition to renovating the lab, Clark Contractors has provided a $50,000 donation dispersed over five years to maintain the equipment, software, furniture, and supplies for the lab.

“Almost 40 percent of our salaried employees are graduates from the University of Little Rock,” Clark said. “Being able to give back and help further establish the resources of the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering is a dream come true for us.”

Students in the UA Little Rock Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering are highly sought after by industry employers and have a 100-percent employment rate upon graduation.

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