Burns & McDonnell Design Innovation Lab to be unveiled at Oct. 5 ceremony


The new Burns & McDonnell Design Innovation Lab at Metropolitan Community College’s Business & Technology campus will give select students an opportunity for focused instruction in using advanced design software with an emphasis on real-world problem solving and communication skills.

Upon completion of that supplemental instruction, Burns & McDonnell will consider students for potential internships or direct-hire positions with the company.

The lab and supplemental instruction, results of a gift from Burns & McDonnell vice president Gabriel Hernandez and the company, will be unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 5. The Business & Technology campus is at 1775 Universal Ave., Kansas City, MO 64120.

Hernandez, a member of the MCC Foundation board of directors, is no stranger to the Business & Technology campus. In March, he helped organize two Burns & McDonnell networking events for students there. He was presented with a trophy of appreciation designed by the Business & Technology Fab Lab.

“A well-rounded education tailored to how our industries continue evolving allows for a stronger, well-equipped graduate,” Hernandez says. “Having the tools necessary for success on Day 1 is a winning combination for both MCC and Burns & McDonnell.”

MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty said the College is grateful for the continuing partnership with Hernandez and Burns & McDonnell. “The Design Innovation Lab initiative not only enhances the physical learning environment, but it creates the opportunity for our students to learn from and be inspired by Burns & Mac professionals,” she said.

The Design Innovation Lab is a classroom in the Technology Center (TC 205).  Before this, there had been only one lab that could be used for manual drafting, the introductory course in engineering technology.

The refurbished classroom, which features Burns & McDonnell branding, can be used for that course as well as other classes that require computers with design software, such as computer-aided drafting.

The Design Innovation Lab — with new desks, computers and a 36-inch plotter for printing blueprints — “will allow us to run more entry-level classes and expand night offerings,” says Mike Cline, engineering technology program coordinator.

The new lab also will serve as home base for supplemental instruction. The campus and the engineering firm will select a handful of high-performing students who plan to go into the computer-aided drafting and engineering technology fields. This semester, four students were selected. Each week, the students will immerse themselves in real-world projects in the engineering, science and technology fields.

Burns & McDonnell employees facilitate the weekly sessions. “This is one-on-one, directed, real-world instruction,” says Dr. Jackie Gill, president of MCC-Business & Technology.

Over a semester, students in the sessions will be presented with three to four design challenges, Cline says. The initial challenge, given to students at their first meeting Sept. 13, has to do with how power comes into a substation. Students will work together for a few weeks before presenting their solution to Burns & Mac and MCC instructors.

Hernandez notes that some of the Burns & Mac instructors are MCC alumni. Providing current students with real-world challenges in the transmission/distribution and energy sectors will strengthen their ability to problem-solve, he says.

MCC’s Business & Technology campus has established its 3-D drafting and design program “as a leader in the region, and we wanted to supplement students with additional skills accordingly,” Hernandez says of the new supplemental instruction opportunity.

Upon completion of the instruction, students will be considered for potential internships or employment with Burns & McDonnell.

“We do a great job with the foundation-level coursework,” Gill says. “Now they get to take that and put it in a real-world scenario. Any time we can do that, it’s a huge bonus for our students.”

Hernandez says the Design Innovation Lab initiative is one of many ways Burns & McDonnell is working to attract young talent in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). According to KCSourceLink, more than 7,500 STEM jobs were available last year in Greater Kansas City, but employers were able to fill only about 2,500 of them.

To learn more about Burns & McDonnell’s commitment to STEM education, visit burnsmcd.com/giving-and-outreach/stem-commitment.

To learn more about MCC’s engineering technology program, visit mcckc.edu/programs/engineeringtechnology.