UMR students to help small Missouri town with economic development

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On April 12, 2007

Eight student teams from the University of Missouri-Rolla will present their economic development plans for Newburg, Mo., to the town’s residents from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the old Houston House in Newburg.

Google Map image of Newburg
Newburg is a small, rural, south central Missouri community.

The 14 undergraduate students are enrolled this semester in a project management course with Karl Burgher, lecturer in engineering management at UMR. The class’ assignment was to help develop a vision and subsequent work plans for eight projects to help Newburg officials with local economic development.

Projects selected for review include soccer fields and track, Pow Wow Grounds, fishing access and camping, walking trails, Houston House renovation, horse staging area, Trail of Tears site, skate and bike park, Round House and Turntable historic interpretation, Stream Clean project organization and definition, and an access bridge and parking areas.

Burgher began working with Newburg three years ago while he was interim chair of economics and finance at UMR. The EPA and the Hazardous Substance Research Centers have also helped with the effort and during this time, the city has acquired the Houston House and 28 acres of developable land across from town and on the Little Piney River.

“I spent almost two years in the acquisition of the land with the people of Newburg,” Burgher says. “Starting the semester, I was wondering what to do to make the Engineering Management 261 class more like real-life and the answer became obvious. The town needed some work plan development – idea assessment and generation – and final visioning. That is where the students have been priceless.”

The student teams developed real-world work plans, MS-Project schedules, and detailed specifications, worked with community members, talked to contractors and suppliers, and finished eight substantive work plans for citizen representatives.

“A student dropped by one day and told me she was having a hard time reaching suppliers and getting data,” Burgher says. “I told her, ‘welcome to reality.’ This is why employers hire UMR graduates. They get a taste of what’s to come and are ready when it does.”

The April 17 meeting is expected to last a couple of hours and the agenda includes:

  • Introduction of Newburg by Marvin Helms
  • Summary of student purpose and community evolution by Burgher, the evening’s moderator.
  • Eight student team presentations, 15 minutes each
  • Question-and-answer session
  • Refreshments

Class members are:

  • Majed Attar of Saudi Arabia, a senior in engineering management
  • Terri Barnes of Lexington, S.C., a senior in engineering management
  • Richard Clifton of Rolla, Mo., a senior in economics
  • Amy Cole of Rolla, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • Alex Dempsey of St. Louis, a senior in engineering management
  • B. Vonzel Hoffer of Rolla, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • Matthew House of Independence, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • Avian Jordan of Florissant, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • Joel Logue of Quincy, Ill., a senior in electrical engineering
  • Matthew Nunnally of Springfield, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • Fisal Sonbol of Rolla, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • William Strupp of Catawissa, M., a senior in engineering management
  • Paul Thompson of Rolla, Mo., a senior in engineering management
  • Christina Winters of Rolla, Mo., a senior in computer science.

The engineering management and systems engineering department at UMR offers undergraduate and graduate courses in project management and a graduate certificate in project management. In addition, the department is a certified education provider for the Project Management Institute.

For more information about the project, email Karl Burgher at

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On April 12, 2007. Posted in News