S&T students assist rural Missouri towns with economic development

Posted by
On November 21, 2008

Ten student teams from Missouri University of Science and Technology have been working this semester on engineering projects for the economic development of Salem, Mo. Salem is a small city in south central Missouri, and is the county seat for Dent County.

The students enrolled in Dr. Karl Burgher’s Introduction to Project Management class were assigned to help develop a vision and subsequent work plan for projects requested by the city of Salem to help with infrastructure, service and process organization. Burgher is a lecturer in Missouri S&T’s engineering management department.

In addition to working on a downtown revitalization plan, the students are developing ideas for several proposed projects, including a theatre and community civic center, a soccer park complex, and a recycling center. They are also studying parking availability, the development of city parks, the enhancement of a public pool, a plan to increase the capacity of a farmer’s market, the feasibility of a new biking and hiking trail, and the potential creation of a cardiovascular wellness program.

“Salem was anxious to participate,” says Ray Walden, a member of the University of Missouri extension office in Salem and president of the Salem Area Community Betterment Committee. “We saw the collaboration as a natural fit – a good opportunity for the students and the community.”

Students have been working with the Salem Area Community Betterment Association and the city’s economic development officer, as well as community volunteers to develop their plans.

The class aims to give students real-life experience in managing engineering projects. “Students find out what it is like to have clients, make meetings, deal with conflicting schedules, and work around the weather,” says Burgher. “It is about taking classroom expertise and putting it out into the community.”

When possible, Burgher attempts to match student expertise with the work required for the project. This semester, Paige Van Mannen of Centralia, Mo., a senior in civil engineering, is working with partner, Dustin Green of St. Louis, a senior in engineering management, on expanding parking for Salem parks and the downtown area. Van Maanen has worked with construction and paving companies for the past several summers and is well equipped to deal with all that the project involves.

The student teams presented their white papers, or project briefings, to the community on Nov. 4. The next step is to develop a real-world work plan, budget, and project work schedule to be presented to the community members at the end of the semester. For many of the projects, Missouri S&T students are giving the first detailed analysis of cost and labor estimates.

The final presentations will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at the Bank of Salem Courtesy Room. The public is invited. The work plans will be complete enough that the community will be able to utilize many of them immediately.
“This is a means to get the town excited,” says Walden. “It’s an opportunity to get an outside perspective, a fresh set of eyes, on projects that have been talked about for quite a while.”

Burgher works in cooperation with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) Executive Director Richard Cavender and his staff. The MRPC covers eight counties and more than 30 cities, assisting with development projects. The MRPC and Burgher identify cities that need help and select towns for each semester’s class. Steeleville, Mo., and Dixon, Mo., are scheduled for subsequent semesters.

The engineering management and systems engineering department at Missouri S&T 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 burgherk@mst.edu.

Share this page

Posted by

On November 21, 2008. Posted in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, News, Top Headlines