Construction Management hosts inaugural Indiana Building Academy

Brad Benhart welcomes attendees to the inaugural Indiana Building Academy

Purdue Polytechnic’s School of Construction Management Technology (CMT) held the inaugural Indiana Building Academy, a one-day conference for building industry professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, in November. Indiana State Building Commissioner Craig E. Burgess and Indiana State Fire Marshal James Greeson were keynote speakers. Topics ran the gamut of industry needs and included an introduction to the state’s building plan review process, an exploration of community-based design for nonprofits and information regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, including ensuring buildings are ADA-compliant.

Bradley Benhart, associate professor of practice in CMT, explained how the inspiration for the conference came from the desire to increase communication and share best practices with professionals throughout Indiana’s construction industry.

“The building commissioner approached us as partners to help support his office on a variety of fronts. The Building Academy was born from that partnership,” said Benhart. “It’s great from an education standpoint. We want to make it a continuing opportunity.”

The inaugural Indiana Building Academy was successful, Benhart said, so they scheduled the next conference for Nov. 12, 2019.

“Our goal is not to repeat this event but to grow it, with subject matter experts,” said Burgess.

James Greeson, Indiana State Fire Marshall, gives a lunchtime presentation

Dina Dawkins, building assistant for the City of Portage Building Department, and her supervisor, Portage Building Commissioner Douglas Sweeney, traveled to the conference from their city that borders Lake Michigan.

“The conference was very helpful,” said Dawkins. “It’s great for anyone new in the industry, whether working for themselves or a municipality. I would like to see classes for those who are new and those who have been in the industry for a while, whether they’re a contractor, architect or building official.”

Scott Williams, building inspector for Hancock County, just east of Indianapolis, appreciated that conference organizers brought together industry professionals in one place.

“Networking is very important,” said Williams. He planned to meet Burgess, the state building commissioner, “to put a face with a name.”

In addition to a networking opportunity for industry professionals from throughout Indiana, the conference also provided a chance for CMT students to meet building professionals and engage in real-world business discussions.

Conner Batchelder, a senior from Fort Wayne, Ind., majoring in building construction management and healthcare construction management, has already accepted a full-time position as a project engineer with JE Dunn Construction Company in Portland, Ore. He said he enjoyed seeing students, contractors, architects, engineers, inspectors, commissioners and maintenance technicians gathered together to share points of view and best practices in one collaborative environment.

“Everyone involved added value to the conference and it was a great learning experience,” said Batchelder. “It also was a great chance for students to connect with industry professionals and gain insights about their future careers. The speakers were interesting and had a lot of good information, perspectives and advice to share.”

Batchelder recommends the conference to anyone involved in the planning, design, construction, operation or maintenance of buildings in Indiana would benefit from attending this conference.

For information on the 2019 Indiana Building Academy, email

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