11/12/2021 – 09:10am | By: Ivonne Kawas
To expose students to experiential learning opportunities, seniors in The University
of Southern Mississippi (USM) Interior Design program, housed in the School of Construction
and Design, participated in a competition for Jackson Brothers Construction Services
as part of the ID 342 Residential Interior Design II Class. The winning teams will
get to see their proposed designs come to life this semester.
Brandon Jackson, President of Jackson Brothers Construction Services, is an alum of
the Construction Engineering Technology Program at USM. This is the third-year seniors
participate in the competition by proposing the interior and exterior material specifications
for spec homes under construction.
“Working with Jackson has been a valuable learning experience for our students. These
projects expose students to the reality of working within a limited budget and time
constraint. They also learn to work and communicate as a team and share responsibilities,
which sometimes can be a challenge,” said Claire Hamilton, associate professor in
“In addition, students learn to manage their time more independently without the typical
pre-set class agenda, it is up to them to determine how to meet the deadlines. Communicating
with suppliers has also been a learning experience, from learning more about building
materials, terminology and estimating materials,” she added.
The ID 342 Residential Interior Design II class was divided into four teams of 3-4
students. They were provided the budget and list of local suppliers in which they
could visit to make the selections for two spec homes in Sumrall, Miss.
Teams prepared two presentations, one for the exterior package, which included brick,
roofing, lighting, shutters, doors, hardware, paint, trim, Hardie siding, etc. and
prepared renderings, specifications and price quotes. The second presentation focused
on the interior package and included interior material selections, including doors,
hardware, kitchen design, countertops, appliances, tile, flooring, paint, brick, plumbing
fixtures and fittings, and lighting.
Following the presentations, representatives from Jackson Brothers Construction Services
selected the top designs based on aesthetics and those that met strict budget parameters.
The challenge this year was availability of materials and staying within a tighter
“In the end, I enjoyed watching the teams present their solutions and observing the
steps they took to compete with each other. I’ve seen some creative techniques used
that have helped them sell their solutions,” said Hamilton.
The winning teams included students in Lot 17: Melissa Nelson from Tylertown, Miss.,
Lindsay Glover from Hattiesburg, Miss., and Zoie Eddy from Mobile, Ala., and Lot 18:
Madison Arabie from Carrier, Miss., Kristina Ledic from Mobile, Ala., and Holland
Harkins from Gulfport, Miss.
Harkins, a member of one of the winning teams, discusses her experience of working
on the interior and exterior selections for the new build.
“After presenting our selections for the new build, my team was chosen as one of the
winning groups, and we will get to watch our designs come to life throughout the rest
of the semester,” said Harkins.
“Collaborating with Jackson Brothers was the perfect opportunity for us to grow as
future interior designers, as we experienced challenges that we will face when we
join the workforce,” she added. “Not only did the project bring a sense of reality
to my future career, but it taught me the importance of meeting deadlines, staying
within budget, and solving unexpected issues.”
Jackson highlights the benefit of collaborating with USM to provide this extraordinary
opportunity for students to gain industry experience and offers career advice.
“There is no substitute for real-world experience and that’s what motivated us to
help create this opportunity,” said Jackson. “The advice I have for students is to
keep learning how to sell. I encourage you all to push yourselves and become vocal
in selling your work. No matter what you’re designing or where you’re working, you
will always be selling and presenting your work, information, or yourselves,” he added.
Jackson’s love for construction was fostered by both his father and grandfather who
worked in the construction industry. As a student at USM, Jackson was president of
the Southern Miss Student Constructors Organization. He gained valuable field experience
working under some of the best craftsmen before venturing out on his own in 2017 when
he formed Jackson Brothers Construction Services. Today, Jackson is a licensed contractor
in Miss., Ala. and La.
Learn more about the Interior Design program in the School of Construction and Design.