Logo: University of Southern California

Industry Organization to Help Astani Department Construction Engineering and Management Students

Beaver Association's initiative is aimed at bringing new blood into the heavy construction industry
Eric Mankin
April 14, 2009 —

Jim Walze of the Griffith Co., president of the Beavers Charitable Trust, gave a $125,000 check to Dean Yannis C. Yortsos in a ceremonial gathering in front of Olin Hall to establish the Beavers Heavy Construction Scholarship.

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Jim Waltze presents a check to Dean Yannis C. Yortsos to establish construction scholarship fund.
According to the terms of the agreement, the funds are to be used to annually support at least one "upper-class or graduate student majoring in construction management or construction engineering studies who has a professional goal of achieving a career in the heavy construction industry."

The check is the first in a continuing series. From its side, the Viterbi School will  "work to obtain contributions to match the Beavers' annual gift," said Yortsos, "to build further this important scholarship endowment."

Founded in 1955, the Beavers Heavy Construction Association is a social, honorary organization formed, organized and managed by the construction companies and individuals who are or have engaged in heavy engineering construction.

Its Charitable Trust, established in 1977, focuses on disbursing scholarship funds "for the exclusive purpose of assisting students entering the heavy construction industry," in the face of a growing shortage of qualified younger personnel.

"There are a lot of reasons for this aging of the industry"  says the group's website,  citing difficulties in attracting bright young aspirants to careers building big buildings, bridges, and urban infrastructure. Viterbi School administrators and faculty are delighted that USC is seen by the Beavers as an institution that can help turn around the situation,

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Building on education: left to right Tom Foss (Griffith Co, Beavers) , Hank Koffman, Jim Waltze (Griffith Co, Beavers), Dean Yannis Yortsos, Jean-Pierre Bardet.

Dean Yortsos saluted the gift, noting that the Viterbi School's focus on "Engineering+," ensuring that engineers go into the workplace with a range of skills, made it a "perfect fit for the goals of Beavers."

Astani Department chair Jean-Pierre Bardet thanked the Beavers for their donation. "And we are glad that our construction program, which has been growing under the directorship of Hank Koffman, will have this additional support for students."

Bardet added that the Beavers' aims coincide with those of those announced for the department when Sonny Astani made his departmental naming gift in 2007 — the belief that " civil engineering is vital to achieve a critical need for the 21st century: cities designed to be highly functional, healthful and inspiring; environments that celebrate humanity.”