ECU construction management grads to receive traditional hard hats

Construction management commencement hard hats are set for delivery. (Submitted photo)

East Carolina University’s Department of Construction Management has a cherished tradition of providing each graduate a hard hat to wear during commencement. That tradition will continue.

Normally, construction management graduates receive their hard hats on campus during a “topping off” ceremony. In the construction industry, the placement of the final beam in a topping off ceremony signifies a milestone in a building project.

However, with social distancing and other rules in place, the department was unable to host the ceremony. Instead, students will receive their hard hats by mail in time for ECU’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 8.

The hard hats were packaged on Friday and are expected to be mailed to seniors in the coming days.

Dr. Jodi Farrington, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Construction Management, said the future grads have adapted well to the unique circumstances of their final semesters, which include alternative course delivery.

“The seniors have actually been quite flexible,” Farrington said. “In many cases, they have greater comfort with the technology and apps that we are now implementing than some of the faculty do.”

On top of that, the seniors have been completing their capstone projects in which they form teams, prepare project bid documents and present critical management activities of the entire construction process just as general contractors would on an actual construction project.

Construction management graduates will receiver their hard hats by mail. (Photo by Ken Buday)

“A majority of the students remain committed to producing the final project proposal and presentation, and have been adjusting their schedules and work locations to be able to gather in virtual meetings to create the required products,” Farrington said. “ … As you can imagine, the entire process is arduous, and at the completion, they have grown ready for transition to the world of construction management.”

Dr. George Wang, professor and interim chair of the department, said ECU’s construction management graduates are poised for success in a competitive industry that plays a big role in the nation’s economy, even in these times of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our undergraduate construction management program provides academic preparation for students entering the construction industry, which includes providing students with sound technical knowledge, project management skills and leadership capability training,” Wang said. “All these ensure our senior construction majored students will soon become construction professionals.”

In addition to the virtual event on May 8, the university is working to develop a plan to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of spring and summer 2020 graduates. Discussions of events to recognize graduates later this year are taking place. Information on those events will be announced when plans are finalized.