County Materials Corporation’s Facility Tour Educates UW Stout Students Beyond the Classroom
Fifteen students from the University of Wisconsin Stout’s Construction Management program toured County Materials Corporation’s Roberts, Wis. production facility on May 3rd, 2017. The trip was organized after Stout professor Heath Wiley contacted Tom Peterson, Regional Manager for County Materials, about the possibility. Professor Wiley wanted to take his students out of the classroom to see the manufacturing process for concrete construction products firsthand, back up the technical information from the textbook and to teach his students about the construction industry from a new perspective.
Peterson was immediately on board with the tour. “I was excited to set up the tour with Professor Wiley, this was a great opportunity for students to see the vibrant industry and learn about the complexities in manufacturing.” Peterson said. “Many young people interested in the industry do not understand how engaging the manufacturing process is.”
Peterson along with Carlos Villarreal, Location Manager; Matt Fall, Prestress Division Sales Manager; and John Kaiser, Prestress Operations Manager led the tour and explained their different roles within the organization. The students visited County Materials’ concrete block, precast pipe, ready-mix, prestress bridge girder and hollowcore production plants.
Professor Wiley was enthusiastic about what the tour offered his class. “The students gained great insight to the concrete industry from a leading concrete company,” Wiley stated. “I believe that if construction students can gain an understanding of the time and effort that is being put into high-end concrete products produced by the employees at County Materials, they will understand that they are the most valuable asset in a company.”
Peterson from County Materials said he was impressed with the students’ knowledge and their in-depth questions. “One student asked how rain affected the moisture levels in production, and what we do to manage it,” recounted Peterson. “I explained the machinery’s moisture sensors to the class, and our ability to make adjustments during production. I was really surprised by the technical questions they had.”
Many of the students already work or have experience working for construction companies, however, have not seen the production process for materials they use. Peterson commented, “The students seem ready for the industry. I am excited that there is so much young talent interested in becoming a part of construction and manufacturing.”
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