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ACEC-MS annual Fall Fling moves to Mississippi State

When the American Council of Engineering Companies-Mississippi (ACEC-MS) hosts its annual Fall Fling next month, it will be the first time the statewide association of private companies will have met outside the metro Jackson area.

Kirk Schulz, the new dean of Mississippi State University’s (MSU) James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, is hosting the November 15-16 event at the Hunter Henry Center in Starkville.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered so closely with the university,” said ACEC-MS executive director Judy Adams. “We’ll bring students into our education session so they’ll know what it’s like to be in private business. We’ll have a panel discussion with representatives from the engineering departments of Jackson State University, Ole Miss and MSU concerning what the private sector would like to see from college graduates coming into the private marketplace. It should be very interesting.”

Because of the change of location from Central to Northeast Mississippi, and the displacement of several engineering firms in Hurricane Katrina-affected areas, Adams expects to see a smaller crowd this year.

“We’re hoping to draw those engineers who don’t normally drive to Jackson,” said Adams. “The turnout from the Gulf Coast won’t be good because they’re just trying to get back on their feet. However, we have a lot on tap, and the Fall Fling will be beneficial for anyone in business.”

The itinerary will begin at 1 p.m. November 15, with an executive committee meeting, followed by committee meetings featuring Jim Kopf, Corbin McGriff and Stanley Spradling. Guest speaker Nick Walters, state director of USDA Rural Development, will discuss changes in the federal agency’s programs during the general business session at 3 p.m., followed by a reception and dinner honoring ACEC-MS fellows at Hotel Chester in Starkville’s historic Cotton District. Stanley Spradling of Calvert Spradling in West Point will be named the association’s ninth fellow.

“The engineers in this elite group have accomplished a lot,” said Adams. “They’ve fulfilled a number of professional requirements, such as serving through leadership chairs in the group, serving on the national level, writing papers and owning a company for a certain number of years. It’s quite an achievement.”

Magician and financial wizard Bob Mark, CFO and principal of Rowe Inc., will keynote the evening dinner and lead the morning seminars November 16. A frequent speaker at national ACEC events and a faculty member at Michigan Technological University, Mark has served as a draftsman, survey instrument person, survey crew chief, construction observer, designer, office manager and corporate executive during his 41-year career.

ACEC-MS members will participate in the early morning session, “Exiting Your Company Is Not An Illusion,” in which Mark will discuss ownership transition options and how to develop a workable exit strategy. He will explore pricing strategies, payment methods and purchase agreements.
Students are invited to attend the second session, “Simple Secrets To Building A Budget,” in which Mark will address building a working budget, emphasizing how to develop an accurate revenue forecast.

“Most engineering students don’t get much of a business background because the engineering discipline is so focused,” said Adams. “When they go into business for themselves, it’s sometimes very difficult for them unless they have a financial person on board. Also, a lot of engineering graduates go into government and industry and never get a P.E. license, which they’ll need if they go into private practice. Showing these students the reality of the business world will hopefully open their eyes early on.”

A campus tour will follow a box lunch on the grounds of MSU, with the two-day event wrapping at 3 p.m.

“We wanted to host ACEC-MS’s Fall Fling as one way to make sure the College of Engineering was interacting with practitioners as strongly as possible,” said Schulz. “Our goal is to host more meetings and activities on campus, where engineers can interact with faculty, students and administration and express their needs from our engineering graduates.

“This venue is terrific, because it’s the conversations at the coffee breaks where you make significant progress.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.


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