February 12, 2021

Feature: Texas State University Construction Science Program

One of the biggest obstacles in the homebuilding industry no doubt is trained workers. Nationally, there are more than 300,000 open jobs for positions in the trades, project management, and other construction related roles. And, that number is growing at a faster-than-average pace of other industries.

So, how can we help bolster a new generation of homebuilders? Help flip the script on construction-related jobs. Whether it’s in conversations, zoom meetings, through social media or by funding new programs, get the word out that construction industry professions are as lucrative, and sometimes more so, than typical entry level jobs a student might get out of college. Plus, these types of roles offer a pathway to a career instead of being just a job. There is much room for growth in many directions depending on their interest. And they can look forward to opportunities to work for some of the biggest homebuilders in the nation or to perhaps owning their own business. Bottomline – a career in construction is a solid pathway to success.

The Austin-area has many high school, vocational school, and college-level programs available that give students real world experience, one of which can be found at Texas State University in San Marcos. Below, Professor of Practice, Will Holder, introduces and answers questions about their four-year Bachelor of Science in Residential Construction degree.

What should people know about the program and Texas State University?
For the first two years, the Construction Science course load is heavily based in science and math. Then, the last two years are filled with construction classes of all kinds, including surveying, soils & foundations, civil construction, CAD operation, estimating, scheduling, construction contracts, job cost accounting and more. While completing the program, students focus solely on core residential construction courses so they have the opportunity to experience many different facets of the industry. Program Link

The program has upwards of 530 students currently enrolled. Texas State University has an interesting demographic profile in that it almost exactly mirrors the state of Texas. Our construction program attracts a high percentage of first generation college students whose parents may work in the industry as a trade. Many of our students grew up working in the houses on weekends with their parents. Texas State has the multi-cultural, multi-lingual new leaders needed in our industry.

Tell us a little about the courses.
Residential 1, Stages of Construction, teaches how a house is built including scheduling and whole house estimating. All CS students take this course.

Residential 2, Homebuilding Business Practices, focuses on HQ departments workflow; purchasing, starts, sales, and contracts administration. This course is specifically for homebuilding aspiring students only.

Residential Capstone is a new class for fall 2020 and is scheduled to be taught by a practicing homebuilder. This course is focused on leadership roles in Project Management and is also designed for Homebuilding aspiring students only.

What advice would you give students considering this program?
Homebuilding is an exciting and challenging profession. You  have to love the houses, if you do, it is the best move they will ever make.  The construction science programs at all Texas universities are rigorous programs, they are also among the highest paying BS degrees for graduates. These graduates are in very high demand and their hard work will pay off.

How do you help students with job placement post-graduation?
We have a great career fair twice every year just for construction students. It is completely overbooked by the recruiting companies, but today that career fair is virtual. For that reason, we have compiled a roster of homebuilding students seeking internships or career starts right now. I can provide that list to any builder requesting it. Just write me at fwh10@txstate.edu.

Are there scholarships available?
We are part of the School of Engineering Technologies and through that school students may apply for many scholarships based on a myriad of award criteria. But currently there are no scholarships associated with homebuilding students.

How can HBA members get involved with your program?
There are lots of great ways to connect with our students. The best way by far is to be a guest speaker at a class. Students appreciate hearing what it’s really like to do the jobs they are training for from those who are in the field. Students also go on field trips to supporting builder’s job sites. Those classes with guest speakers or field trips are the most valuable classes of the semester.

Each year we hold a Construction Careers Fair where companies host a booth and speak to students about their businesses and potential job opportunities. This year, the event is being held virtually on February 25. When held in person, this event is typically a sell out so we encourage reserving a spot early. For more information, visit here.

We are open to ideas! Texas State is committed to doing more than just teaching our students. We want to give them as much help and exposure to the industry as we can so they will be successful upon graduation and beyond. Just reach out and we will be happy to discuss options. You can also send us any announcements you might have about internships or job openings and we’ll be glad to share with our students. I can be reached at Fwh10@txstate.edu / 713-822-1283.