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A Conversation With ... Dianne Kay Slattery

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What is C-PRIME?

I really have an open book, I guess, on what I make the center. But I intend for it to provide noncredit continuing education for construction and design professionals, primarily - engineers, architects, contractors, land surveyors perhaps. Many of those folks need continuing education to keep up licensure, so I think this is a great opportunity for us to meet a need in the local professional community and offer some very relevant and affordable low-cost options for them to get continuing education. The staff is just me, so it's very much a fledgling operation in terms of where we go and what we do. ... I'm working on a brochure right now for a program on 3-D laser scanning that we're going to present on Dec. 11.

How can C-Prime support local construction firms?

If you have to send somebody out of town, say to St. Louis or Kansas City, for a one-day (training event) they have to go the night before (with) travel expenses plus missing a day of work. If we can offer things in the local market and keep people here in town, we can make it more affordable for companies to get that additional training for people. ... It also (helps) companies to hold onto their good people when times are really tough. You don't want your best people to jump ship if work is slowing down. If you can show them that you're investing in them and sending them for training, (it) shows a commitment that may help (companies) retain their employees.

What's the center's history?

In the past year, the department has been renamed as the Department of Technology and Construction Management. The Center for Industrial Productivity, as I understand it, had been formed years ago and was more focused toward the manufacturing (and) industrial productivity and really didn't involve construction. And because of the change in the department's focus, and the opportunity for some new faculty to come in, it seemed a good time to rename the center and refocus it toward what our department is involved in today.

Tell us about your professional background.

I worked as an engineer for about six years. Then I had children and stayed home for a couple of years. I began teaching part time and gradually, as my children grew, I grew it into a full-time job. I have been teaching for 20 years.

What brought you to Missouri State?

Great salesmanship by (department head Shawn Strong). MSU was advertising this position. I had been at SIU-Edwardsville for about 20 years, and MSU just made it very easy for us to come and join the faculty here. We asked if they would consider hiring a husband-and-wife team. My husband, Kerry, is an assistant construction management professor here. I had done a lot of continuing education ... at my previous job and enjoyed doing it, so that was one of the things that attracted me to this position.

Describe your work outside the center.

I'm teaching construction surveying and a cost-analysis course. In the spring, I will teach soils and surveying again. Every faculty member's time is divided, in a sense. Everybody is expected to do public service and research. My research has been in laser scanning on the surveying side. My Ph.D. dissertation was on women-owned construction businesses. I'm interested in meeting women in the construction fields as well. ... I've got some really good insights into how difficult it has been for (women) to get into the field and persist in spite of some barriers that are put up.

What sorts of job prospects do you see for your students?

It's a tougher time. When I talk to parents and students who come in - high school juniors and seniors thinking about going into construction - for several years, I've said, "It's really good right now. Our seniors have five or six job offers and the salaries are getting to where they're going to make more than the professors." But I also kept saying, "But surely, someday it's not going to be as good as this." We've reached that day, I think. There are fewer openings, but there are openings, so maybe students who before would only look around their hometown or in their home region may have to go cross-country or even to another country. ... There still are very good opportunities in construction.[[In-content Ad]]

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