When Jerry Xiong started his college career at California State University, Chico, in 2016, his sights were not always set on precast concrete. Yet as Xiong’s knowledge of the industry increased, so did his desire to get his hands dirty in precast. Now six years later Xiong has earned the notable designation of Master Precaster certified by the National Precast Concrete Association, (NPCA).
“When I was in college, not many courses were offered about precast,” says Xiong, Quality Control Supervisor at Jensen Precast Sacramento, “It wasn’t until I started my first internship at Jensen Precast that sparked my interest in the field. After that I started wondering, ‘What else is out there?’” Xiong started researching the precast field and stumbled upon the NPCA Master Precaster certification and what it took to earn this title.
To become a Master Precaster, students must complete six NPCA Precast University courses totaling 89 hours that consist of topics spread across three Production and Quality School levels. Notable topics include batching and mixing for precast concrete, water-cement ratios, forklift operations, precast maturity methods, reading and understanding blueprints, basics of design theory for concrete elements, and improving employee performance. The courses train students in production, quality, safety, technical, and plant leadership.
“I’m really interested in sustainability, durability, and resilience,” Xiong says regarding his interest about quality control in the precast concrete industry. “I spoke to my manager about how much it meant to me to get the Master Precaster certification. Jensen Precast supported me all the way.”
Thinking about studying to become the next Master Precaster? Precast University courses are offered annually at the NPCA Precast Show and throughout the year by webinars and other online opportunities. Precast University curriculum is regularly reviewed by producers, specifiers, DOTs, and others involved in creating and enforcing industry standards. This review process ensures that as modern technologies, standards, and best practices are developed, Precast University participants receive the very latest industry information.
As America’s underground infrastructure continues to grow, the demand in this niche field of study grows as well. “There are more opportunities in precast than you might realize,” Xiong says. “When I was in college, we were taught so many industries, but there wasn’t a huge emphasis on precast. Finally in 2018, Chico State created a class about precast concrete. Now I’m a guest speaker, and I encourage students to pursue a career in precast.”
Those who earn the Master Precaster designation set themselves apart from others in the field. Earning this certification shows your current employers or future employers that you have the skills to immediately contribute to the success of their precast concrete business.
“Being recognized as a Master Precaster is a major accomplishment and one that requires a great deal of commitment,” says former NPCA President Ty Gable. “Although the path is arduous, nothing is more important than ensuring that employees are equipped with the right tools, resources, and knowledge to be successful in the workforce.”