Diversity is coming to the concrete industry. Fortunately, change is no longer measured in terms of numbers, but by influence. At a recent meeting of key industry leaders who came together to help draft a vision statement outlining concrete's role in creating a sustainable world, more than a third were women.
One of these vision crafters is Kristin Cooper-Carter, environmental projects coordinator and adjunct professor for the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering at California State University, Chico. Her effort to cast concrete construction as an environmentally friendly building resource has been one of her major accomplishments. Carter brings a welcomed presence to an industry that has been void of diversity in both gender and fresh ideas.
What's more exciting for our industry is that Carter is in a position to bring this vision to the next generation of industry professionals. In a few short years, as the director of the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program at California State University, Chico, this educator incorporated her zeal for the environment into the framework of one of our industry's CIM programs. Her involvement in our industry is that of a user, rather than an engineer. Before her involvement with CIM, Carter had been the director of the college's Office of Environmental Programs and had served as project director on several environmental projects on and off campus for more than 12 years; a position she still holds. Thus, she is able to influence the gray world of concrete.
Involvement means action
Carter draws inspiration from a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that she places in her e-mail signature. It says, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Her actions back up this mantra.
Just look at what she had planned for herself at World of Concrete (WOC) last month. In addition to speaking at our Women in Concrete luncheon, Carter used the event as an educational experience for her students. She encouraged them to visit booths and attend WOC educational seminars, and to use events like WOC to determine what fits best with their interests and talents. One of Carter's successes in demonstrating concrete's sustainability has been installing a pervious walkway on her campus. Last year, she and her team proposed the project as part of an effort to certify local pervious contractors. Carter's students worked with campus staff and concrete contractors in the installation. The effort has worked so well, the university's facilities manager has used pervious in several more projects.
Carter and her department have turned CIM's success into a larger effort. With a $1.8 million grant from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the university now houses the California Pavement Preservation Center. The center will work with the Pavement Preservation Task Group, which is made up of members from Caltrans, the pavement industry, local agencies, and academia. These two programs will be instrumental in creating a foundation for the new school of Sustainability in the Built Environment.
For more on the CIM program, click here.