For nearly two decades, Cincinnati-based Messer Construction has partnered with the University of Dayton’s Multi-Ethnic Engineers Program to support the shared mission of increasing underrepresented student access to engineering career paths.
In 2005, the company established the Messer Construction Co. Engineering Scholarship at the School of Engineering. Last year, Messer expanded the agreement to create an endowed scholarship fund to benefit future engineering scholars.
“This scholarship represents the commitment of our industry partners to diversity, equity and inclusion; and (their commitment) to equitable access in higher education,” said Gerica Brown, director of the Multi-Ethnic Engineers Program.
The MEP is responsible for assessing the pool of candidates who fit the specific scholarship criteria and for selecting the recipients. To be considered for this scholarship, students must identify as a member of a group underrepresented in the field of engineering, be a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, demonstrate financial need and have an interest in working in the construction industry.
For students who are selected, the scholarship can be renewed throughout their time at UD until graduation. The recipients are also given an opportunity to interview for a Messer internship.
“I think it is really important that University of Dayton partners’ values are aligned with our own.”
“I think it is really important that University of Dayton partners’ values are aligned with our own,” Brown said.
The scholarship opens the door to other opportunities for selected students such as internships, mentorships, hands-on experience, co-ops and the possibility of building a successful career in construction.
For Alison Gaines Ekepelu ’18, a previous recipient of the scholarship, Messer not only provided well-rounded construction experience and financial support, but prepared her for her current job as a traffic engineer with CESO Inc.
“I don’t think if I had started off at another company or at another field in civil engineering I would have been able to see some of the things that we learned in the classroom play out,” Ekpelu said. “It’s very rewarding to see something go from being on paper to being a real-life thing.”
Both Messer and UD value equal opportunities in higher education as well as building a stronger sense of community, Brown said.
“Those are the kinds of relationships that we want to continue to foster,” Brown said. “Not every partner of the institution will be able to make a financial contribution, but (it’s important) to find ways to build meaningful relationships with our students.”
Evident by their value statement, “Achieving and encouraging diversity is pivotal for the present and the future,” Messer values diversity and the opportunity to provide options to all students.
Stanford Williams, vice president and chief inclusion and diversity officer for Messer, advocates for providing equal opportunities to construction team members, including student interns, on a daily basis.
“It gives them insight into the real world,” said Williams. “The student has the opportunity to ascertain whether this is a good fit for him or her, and whether this industry is a good fit for themselves.”
Williams is enthusiastic about the opportunities the scholarship provides for underrepresented students at UD.
“We want to hire University of Dayton students and this is a great avenue to do that.”
“We want to hire University of Dayton students and this is a great avenue to do that,” said Williams.
Brown agreed that Messer is such a great partner with UD because they provide for students going beyond just writing a check — they are directly involved in the mentoring and development of professional skills of future engineers at UD.
“They can provide mentors, access to opportunities, and really seem to understand the complexities of how to broaden participation in engineering,” she said.
Photo provided by Gerica Brown.