NAHB grant adds residential building program at UNL
UNL’s Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, part of the College of Engineering, will develop new undergraduate and graduate program areas in residential construction, with funding assistance from the National Housing Endowment’s Homebuilding Education Leadership Program (H.E.L.P.). The National Housing Endowment (NHE) is the philanthropic arm of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
According to Chuck Berryman, UNL associate professor of Construction Management, $75,000 from the NHE will combine with more than $200,000 in resources from UNL, the homebuilding industry and its local professional organization to grow the residential homebuilding emphasis at UNL.
Berryman said this project aims to increase the number of students specializing in homebuilding, to enhance the quality and diversity of experiences for graduates, and to develop an academic community to sustain and advance the opportunities. He added that specific steps toward these goals include forming a residential industry advisory board, conducting K-12 outreach to augment the number of women and minority students entering the undergraduate program, and establishing graduate student positions that add expertise and a structure for progress.
“The NAHB grant is a tremendous boost and, with added support from the university and our industry partners, we are in great shape to augment our Durham School programs this way,” Berryman said. “We can better meet the career aspirations of our students and the economic need of our communities at the state, regional and national levels.”
UNL’s undergraduate Construction Management program has always had a strong commercial and highway building focus, Berryman said, but cited a recent survey of high school students interested in studying construction with the College of Engineering: more than 80 percent of those students expressed interest in a residential focus.
Residential-oriented activities have so far channeled into an NAHB student organization at UNL. Despite UNL not having a structured residential construction program, Berryman said the Husker residential teams typically place in the top five among more than 170 peer chapters in NAHB’s student and chapter competitions. Industry partners, represented by the Home Builders’ Association of Lincoln (HBAL) want to capitalize on that inclination.
“As this economy recovers, we are going to need top quality builders in the field,” said Nadine Condello, executive vice president with the Home Builders Association of Lincoln. “(The residential homebuilding emphasis at UNL) is a great way to do it.”