The top three teams in Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art and Design’s annual Brasfield & Gorrie Student Design Competition receive a cash prize. Members of the first place group include, from left, Brasfield & Gorrie representative Shawn Mancill, regional virtual design and construction manager; interior design senior Alexis V. Bonura of Kenner, Louisiana; Brasfield & Gorrie representative Chelsea Tucker, campus recruiter; senior graphic design student Collins A. Davis of Clinton; Brasfield & Gorrie representative and MSU alumnus Andrew Temple, superintendent; interior design senior McKenzi L. Crockett of Brandon; architecture senior Shawn “Mic” Wilkins of Germantown, Tennessee; architecture senior Terrance A. Blackmon of Pinson, Alabama; architecture senior Brandon “Reid” Perry of Meridian; building construction science senior Carter S. Cumberland of Brandon; architecture senior Rashad Hassan of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Brasfield & Gorrie representative and MSU alumnus Isaiah Brooking, assistant virtual design and construction coordinator; and Brasfield & Gorrie representative and MSU alumnus Robert Robison, regional quality control manager. (Photo by Robby Lozano)

Contact: Christie McNeal

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Since the start of Mississippi State’s fall semester, approximately 100 architecture, building construction science, graphic design and interior design seniors have been working in teams on proposals for a redesign of the university’s Hand Chemical Lab auditorium.

These MSU students have been vying for top honors and a cash prize in the Brasfield & Gorrie Student Design Competition, begun in 2011 with a sponsorship from one of the nation’s largest privately held construction firms based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Shawn Mancill, regional virtual design and construction manager with Brasfield & Gorrie, has been involved with the competition for a number of years.

“Sponsoring this competition is a way to pour back into Mississippi State,” he said of the company with offices also in Jackson.

The sponsorship, according to Mancill, allows Brasfield & Gorrie to network with and evaluate potential candidates to hire in a real-world environment. However, a main goal is to encourage teamwork and collaborative work in education, something that’s highly beneficial for the industry.

“Students join a team that’s made up of four different disciplines, and many of them may have never met,” he said. “That’s what they’ll find outside of school, and this competition helps them prepare for that.”

For the project this year, MSU teams were tasked with redesigning the existing Hand Chemical Lab auditorium to accommodate 300 seats and propose an addition to house new faculty offices, classrooms and a conference room. Students also were required to consider the Americans with Disabilities Act and egress requirements, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, and the Well Building system for monitoring features that impact human health in their projects.

MSU’s Department of Chemistry—the client for the project—was represented by Professor David Wipf and Department Head Dennis Smith at the teams’ final presentations on last week.

 “We are delighted our building was chosen for this cross-college collaboration,” said Smith. “These are fantastic designs.”

Brasfield & Gorrie Regional Quality Control Manager Robert Robison, who also serves on the MSU Building Construction Science Program’s Industry Advisory Board, said what impressed him was how quickly the 10 teams put the project together this year.

“When we gather a team to begin work on a project, it takes them months to do what these student teams are doing in a couple of weeks,” he said. “We like the way that they collaborated and came together for a thorough final project and professional presentation.”

Another goal of the competition is to help students overcome preconceived ideas of the roles traditionally assumed by the various disciplines in the college.

McKenzi L. Crockett, an interior design student and member of this year’s winning team, believes that goal was accomplished.

“We just really learned a lot about the other majors and how to work together,” she said.

Teammate Terrance Blackmon, an architecture student, agreed and said the competition experience and learning how to better collaborate with each other will give his classmates a leg up in their future careers.

“Alumni often comment that they appreciate the value of the experience even more once they begin their careers,” added Associate Professor of Building Construction Science Michele Herrmann.

Along with Herrmann, MSU faculty overseeing the competition included Associate Professor of Architecture Alexis Gregory, Assistant Professor of Architecture Christopher Hunter, Associate Professor of Interior Design Lyndsey Miller, and Associate Professor of Art Suzanne Powney.

Honorees include, by hometown:


BRANDON—Carter S. Cumberland, building construction science; McKenzi L. Crockett, interior design

CLINTON—Collins A. Davis, graphic design

GERMANTOWN, Tennessee—Shawn “Mic” Wilkins, architecture

KENNER, Louisiana—Alexis V. Bonura, interior design

ORANGE BEACH, Alabama—Emma C. Salter, interior design

PINSON, Alabama—Terrance A. Blackmon, architecture

MERIDIAN—Brandon “Reid” Perry, architecture

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama—Rashad Hassan, architecture



BRANDON—Cameron C. Holloway, graphic design

CEDAR BLUFF—Emerson R. Shinn, building construction science

DAPHNE, Alabama—Abigail C. Stewart, architecture

FLORENCE—Cody B. J. Courtney, building construction science

JACKSON—Evelyn “Grace” Carroll, interior design

RIENZI—Megan P. Robinson, interior design

RIPLEY—Joseph “Conner” Griffin, architecture

TUPELO—Jake W. Lindley, architecture



BESSEMER, Alabama—Isabella V. Jones, interior design

BYHALIA—Jeffrey “Hunter” Janes, architecture

ELLISVILLE—Cassie S. Winship, graphic design

FLORA—Spurgeon A. Sanders, architecture

PICAYUNE—Savannah E. Wilson, architecture

RIPLEY— Charlie J. “CJ” Childers, architecture

SALTILLO—Hannah E. Waters, interior design

SIMPSONVILLE, South Carolina—Jonathan P. Jajack, building construction science

TUPELO—Katlin “Katie” J. Reeves, interior design

Learn more about MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design and its academic programs at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

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