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Early this March, the VRMCA Southwest and VRMCA Blue Ridge chapters teamed together to host two dinners at local universities – Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Virginia Tech (VT). The dinners provided an opportunity for the association to educate engineering students about the challenges of wood construction and how building with concrete can mitigate many of those challenges.

The engineering dinners aren’t a new idea but rather one that proved very successful in the past. They had fallen out of favor after the market downturn in the late 2000s. The chapters felt that it was the perfect time to revive – and even expand – them with a few adjustments to reflect current trends and outreach efforts.

In addition to working together, the chapters engaged Virginia ACI and tapped Gregg Lewis of NRMCA for an introduction to Derek Hodgin who presented at both dinners. Derek is a Forensic Investigator with Construction Science and Engineering who is actively involved with investigations of failure in mid-level wood construction projects. He shared some of his findings and talked about the benefits of building with alternative methods like concrete.

Turnout was strong for both events especially as the lead time for registration was less than two weeks. There were approximately 30 attendees at the VMI dinner and the first-ever Virginia Tech dinner had about 75 attendees. Response from the attendees was very positive.

The VRMCA Engineering Dinners highlight a fantastic way that the VRMCA regional chapters are acting as champions for our industry within their marketplace and targeting the next generation of industry professionals.