That’s the subject line that popped up in my email last week from Tanya Komas, founding director of the Concrete Preservation Institute (CPI). Several years ago, Tanya started a summer internship program for students in the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program at Chico State in California to spend 12 weeks doing concrete repair work at Alcatraz prison, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. To continue that work, she started CPI, a non-profit educational partner to the National Park Service. Now she is looking for a “few good men” and women—military veterans to participate in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 sessions at Alcatraz.

Although she accepts students from any college or university, primarily for the summer sessions, for the fall and spring programs she focuses on recruiting post 9/11 military veterans and reservists. This focus on military personnel began in spring 2015—I had the chance to interview a group of her veterans crew at World of Concrete back in February (click here to see a video of that interview). From that conversation it became clear that this is a great opportunity for everyone involved—the veterans get invaluable experience learning about concrete repair and preservation and about the broader concrete industry, Alcatraz gets some much-needed upgrades, and our industry potentially attracts some badly needed talent.

A bonus for the current recruits is that through a grant from the National Park Service, plus matching support from BASF, Hilti, and Chico State’s CIM patrons, CPI is able to offer support for those accepted for the upcoming programs. This is a remarkable opportunity—I would apply myself if I was a bit younger! Tanya described some of the work, which included doing some of the work during the night so as to work around the many daytime Alcatraz visitors. Pretending for a few moments to be an Alcatraz prisoner of 75 years ago, or a civil war era soldier stationed on Fortress Alcatraz 150 years ago, would certainly be thrilling.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in applying for the fall or any future program, go to the CPI web site ( For questions, contact Tanya Komas at As the fall and spring programs proceed, we will report on progress from time to time. Stay tuned!