Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Civil and Environmental Engineering News – Fall 2014

Work Ready

Support From Kiewit Gives Students Hands-on Experience

Support from Kiewit Corporation means that a group of construction management students gained a terrific, hands-on work experience while WSU gained new and improved lab and classroom spaces.

Kiewit Corporation, one of the largest construction companies in North America, provided support for the construction management program’s primary classroom and for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Laboratory for Asphalt Technology. But, in a unique twist, the company supported construction management students who were given experience in overseeing and constructing the upgrades.

Kiewit logo

“WSU is a key school for Kiewit’s recruitments of top talent, including those who will potentially be leading this company someday,” said Scott Cassels, executive vice president of Kiewit. “We want to invest our time and resources to make sure we help the construction management and CE programs produce strong, top-notch students. When young men and women are prepared to come into the workforce with more experience and better skills, it benefits Kiewit and the industry as a whole.”

Six construction management students worked on the classroom project over the last several months. Construction management students Charlie Mroz and Kate Wallen worked on the project throughout the summer. In addition to doing actual construction work, the students helped with planning, working with suppliers and subcontractors, reviewing shop drawings and submittals, and researching technology systems.

“Kiewit wanted students involved in the process,” said Jason Peschel, a faculty member and program coordinator in construction management who worked with the students. “These projects gave our students some real-world experience and helped them learn the process of putting a project together. It translates into what they’re going to be doing in industry and really reinforces the coursework that they’ve learned.”

Great facilities and tools help students learn about new and innovative developments in the construction industry, said Cassels. At the same time, the more experience the students have, the better they are prepared for the workforce.

“What better way to provide the students real life experience?” he said. “Kiewit has always taken an approach to prepare students with real-world opportunities before they become full-time employees.”

The company, which has been recognized as one of the top places to work in the United States and Canada, hires more than 1,000 interns each year, many of whom become full-time employees. Company managers like hiring WSU students, says Cassels.

“For us, WSU is a great place to hire,” he said. “WSU students work hard, are intelligent problem solvers, and possess an entrepreneurial spirit.”

For the construction management studio, the project entailed aesthetic upgrades, such as painting, floor coverings, and window shades. There are also technological improvements, such as new projection screens and a smart podium, which allows for a more interactive classroom. The technology improvements also allow faculty to invite industry experts from all over the country to interact with students and participate in classroom discussions without having to fly to Pullman.

The construction studio, located in Carpenter 220, is the main teaching classroom for construction management and is used daily. The construction management program has 150 certified majors and is capped at 50 students per year. Demand for construction management graduates is high, and for the past eight years, virtually every student who has completed the program has found a position before graduating. Most often, they go to work for construction firms in Washington.

In the asphalt lab, the project included removing walls, adding cabinetry, adding stainless steel countertops, and painting walls. Nathan Lima, also a construction management student, worked with Max Kirk to coordinate the work and the drawings for the asphalt lab renovations on behalf of the civil engineering program. Researchers in the asphalt lab are conducting leading research in bioasphalts.

“I’m excited about this project. This is a great addition to what we have,” says Peschel. “It will be a treat to deliver course content in a space that is aesthetically pleasing and conducive to learning. These improvements will facilitate the learning process without the distraction of peeling paint and the glare of the sun through broken blinds.”

“We so appreciate the support provided by Kiewit,” says Dean Candis Claiborn. “The construction management and civil engineering programs at WSU have a long history of producing graduates who are work ready, day one. Support for this project will help us continue to turn out our top-quality graduates.

“Even more exciting is that while we received a refurbished classroom and asphalt laboratory that is outfitted for optimal learning, we also were able to provide some of our students with a wonderful, hands-on learning opportunity.”

“I’m proud to be a Washington State graduate and am extremely pleased to see my company partnering with the university on these types of excellent programs,” said Cassels. “Our company continues to see a shortage of qualified people who can capably build construction projects of all sizes. With this type of investment, we can help to do our part to encourage students to obtain a degree they can immediately put into practice when they get out of school.”