Identifying the next generation of talented construction executives took center stage at this year’s MCAA Convention in Orlando Feb. 21-25.

“If we don’t act soon and forcefully, our industry will be unable to attract sufficient numbers of qualified, motivated and well-educated young people into its management ranks,” said outgoing MCAA President James J. Murphy Jr., in remarks made during the opening session.

This year’s convention capped off a new burst of enthusiasm by the organization in spreading the word about management opportunities in mechanical construction.

During 1998, all the career-related activities previously developed and carried out by the Mechanical Contractors Foundation were consolidated into the new MCAA Career Development Department. Last September, MCAA hired Dennis Langley as director of career development. Langley came from the Associated General Contractor where he served as national secretary of the board of directors for AGC’s Education and Research Foundation.

“We’re charged with coming up with resources and methods to attract the best and the brightest into our industry,” Langley said.

To assist Langley in his new work, MCAA also formed a new Career Development Committee, chaired by William A. Bianco Jr., Kinetic Systems Inc. By and large, the new career development initiatives follow two interdependent approaches:

  • Develop college study in specialty construction curriculum: Nowhere near enough universities offer a mechanical specialty as part of their engineering and construction management programs. Last March MCF began working with a new group, the Specialty Construction Institute, to develop national specialty construction curriculum at six universities: Pennsylvania State University; Virginia Polytechnic Institute; Georgia Institute of Technology; University of Kansas; University of California at Berkley; and University of Washington.

    The new curriculum will serve as the basis for specialty construction concentrations within each partnering schools’ construction management program. Each university will develop and contribute one course, and the plan calls for each school to eventually have full access to all six courses. Joining MCF in these efforts are representatives from the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association; the National Roofing Contractors Association; and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

    “The key element to making all our efforts work is curriculum,” Langley explained. “But universities have a tough time developing an entire specialty curriculum. So this partnership offers the chance for one college to develop a course, share it and obtain five other courses to offer at the same time.”

    The new group joins the efforts of the Mechanical Electrical Academic Consortium, a three-year-old coalition formed by MCF, the National Electrical Contractors Foundation and six colleges to develop mechanical and/or electrical course work.

  • Establish student chapters at universities: Two new chapters were formed last year: University of Wisconsin and Texas A&M University.

    They join the ranks of Purdue University; University of Nebraska at Lincoln; Iowa State University; and Ferris State University.

    Plans are to establish at least six new student chapters this year. In addition, by this summer MCAA plans to offer summer internships within the ranks of its membership for student chapter members.

    Linking colleges, students and contractors already worked out well for the 22 students who attended the convention. “Every one of them left with either job offers or summer internships,” Langley said.

    In other highlights, the Career Development Committee established a careers area on the MCAA Web site ( Also, conventioneers were the first to view a new eight-minute video, “To The Top,” which emphasizes to college-bound students careers in all segments of the mechanical, sheet metal and electrical industries.