Wednesday, November 23, 2022 | The Michigan Technological University H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex celebrated a milestone this week with placement of the final steel beam during a Topping Out Ceremony.

What is a Topping Out Ceremony?

In construction, topping out ceremonies celebrate placement of the last beam in a building’s framing. This is considered a major milestone during project completion. For traditional steel structures, these beams are steel, and are placed by ironworkers.

The Evergreen Tradition

There are many and varied histories for topping out traditions. However, in the United States, it is common to see a small evergreen and an American flag attached to the beam during erection.

Some stories state that the inclusion of an evergreen tree originated with Scandinavian immigrants, honoring building traditions dating back to the 700s. Other stories credit Indigenous American beliefs that “no structure should be taller than a tree.” Today, the practice is largely considered a wish for good luck during construction and best wishes for the future building occupants.

Building on these traditions, the H-STEM project team also distributed evergreen seedlings during the topping out event.


The MTU H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research labs for health-related STEM studies. This facility will support Michigan Tech’s integrated educational programs in health-related and human-centered technological innovations focused on improving human health and quality of life. Within the H-STEM Complex, multidisciplinary teams will work together in shared, flexible, collaborative lab spaces to advance learning, develop new technologies and prepare a skilled workforce for tomorrow.

Michigan Tech is committed to ensuring that the H-STEM Complex also provides superior user experience and environmental performance. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system provides the framework for designing and building with these sustainability goals in mind. The LEED principles include designing for integration, community, ecology, water, economy, energy, wellness, resources, change and discovery. For the H-STEM Complex, we strive for and anticipate a LEED Gold certification.

Click here to read more about the new H-STEM Complex.

The architect firm on this project is Harley Ellis Devereaux.

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