Two bus shelters designed and built by Mississippi State students are benefiting the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Nearly 150 people gathered recently in Choctaw, home of the band's administrative offices, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that concluded a Neshoba County community project.
In the first course of its sort nationally, second-year building construction science students and architecture students worked together on the semester-long project as part of the university's new Collaborative Studio.
The shelters are made of concrete, pressure-treated lumber and metal, and they are located in the Pearl River and the Tucker communities, where populations number approximately 3,150 and 530, respectively.
"This is just another example about a particular type of community involvement where we get our students involved in making a design and contributing something to the built environment," said Jim West, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaws is only federally recognized American Indian tribe living in Mississippi.
MSU began working with them in 2009 when the Carl Small Town Center -- the School of Architecture's research and service arm -- helped articulate a reservation transit plan. Also, a class led by architecture assistant professor Hans Herrmann earlier constructed a bus shelter for the Bogue Chitto community.
Choctaw Chief Phyliss J. Anderson thanked the students and said she looks forward to having reservation residents and others make use of the shelters as locations to connect.
"It gives them the opportunity to come here and gather and wait for the bus stops," she said. "It also gives them the opportunity to sit and talk to the various people that will be riding on the buses."
Other members of the Choctaw Band also praised the MSU students' work, including planner Steve Murray and Janis Jimmie, division director of tribal member services.
"It's been a breath of fresh air to have young people come in and work with us," Murray said. "They've though about ideas we hadn't thought about."
Jimmie emphasized her pride in the students' ability to commit to a real-world project and see it to fruition. She said she looks forward to working with MSU again.