Student group honored for service

Eric Regelin (far left), national chairman of Associated Builders and Contractors, presents the professional organization’s National Student Chapter of the Year award to Western Carolina University chapter representatives (from left) Matt Smith, David Arant, Lyndsey Gentry and Stephen Nesbitt.

Associated Builders and Contractors recently honored Western Carolina University’s construction management program as home of the professional organization’s top student chapter in the nation, in recognition of the group’s community service and outreach efforts.

Representatives from Western Carolina attended the association’s national conference in San Antonio, Texas, to accept the National Student Chapter of the Year award in April.

“The WCU chapter was picked from a pool of more than 30 major universities for all the outreach our students performed last year,” said Bob Ford, visiting assistant professor of construction management and chapter adviser. “This is a great honor for our students. We are now known by a huge industry group across the nation as a campus motivated toward service.”

During the 2011-12 academic year, the WCU Student Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors undertook several projects that allowed students to apply their skills in construction management to benefit community organizations, said Michael Smith, interim department head for construction management.

Students provided more than 1,400 hours renovating a new home for the Community Table, a nonprofit organization in Sylva that provides nutritious meals to those in need. The chapter also led an effort to help the REACH organization make improvements at a shelter for victims of domestic violence, soliciting volunteers from several other campus groups, including members of fraternities and sororities, WCU athletics teams, two campus ministry organizations and students from the Liberal Studies Program.

Western Carolina’s ABC chapter also obtained materials necessary for a water storage system for the Campus Kitchen Garden, a student-supported organic plot that provides fresh vegetables for local groups that fight hunger, and then built a system for watering the crops.

Chapter members have partnered with numerous professional organizations to promote the construction profession, including development of the inaugural Kimmel School Construction Training Program, designed to offer high school students the chance to explore and get experience in the construction industry.

“Western Carolina University takes service very seriously as part of professional development for our students and faculty,” said Smith. “I believe that the student chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors at Western Carolina demonstrates how such engagement translates into exemplary community service for the benefit of our region.”

For more information about construction management or other programs of the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, visit the website