BECKLEY- The beginning is always a time of celebration and new beginnings. This spring, four WVU Tech graduates will be the first to earn bachelor’s degrees in construction management, the first and only such degree in the state.
Tristen Nesmith from Shady Spring, Ryan Perry from Kanawha Falls, Lucas Berg from Petersburg and Joshua Staines from Strathfield, Sydney, Australia will graduate in May from the Construction Management program. Three of them have already accepted positions as project engineers with construction companies, while one is in talks with a construction company in Florida and expects to accept a job offer there soon.
All four graduates started out as civil engineering majors. When the construction management program started, they decided to change majors because they wanted more hands-on, hands-on experience in their fields.
“When the construction management program came along after my first year here, I knew that was pretty much what I wanted to do. I realized that civil engineering was more about design, and it was more grounded and practical,” Nesmith explained.
“I always loved construction equipment when I was little, and it was this interest that brought me to the program. I didn’t know how to get into this field without a civil engineering degree until I was introduced to the construction management program. Then I realized that was the path I had to be on,” Perry said.
“I came in with a major in civil engineering and saw that it was more theoretical, and I’m more of a practical person. Construction seemed more up my alley. I realized I wanted to be at the heart of the industry instead of signing the papers,” Staines said.
With new infrastructure investments by the federal government and the United States creating trillions of dollars worth of structures each year, there are many job opportunities for those entering the industry.
“Finding, employing and retaining top talent in the construction industry is a difficult task, especially with the Roads to Prosperity programs and federal stimulus programs currently fueling new, revitalized infrastructure throughout West Virginia,” said John Jarrett, owner of Jarrett Construction and Technology Alumnus (’84).
“The technology fills a need that no other university or college in West Virginia is filling. My company can recruit new team members right here in West Virginia. Having a source for that talent a stone’s throw or two from our office is unquantifiable. We are thrilled to have Tech and its construction management program available to us,” said Jarrett.
“There is a huge opportunity for growth. We all start as project engineers. There’s just a huge ceiling to growth, and construction is one of the biggest industries in the country right now,” adds Nesmith.
“The program is well balanced,” Perry said. “We do a little bit of everything, from the design of projects before they start up to their completion.
Jarrett explained that Tech also provides its students with the latest construction industry software, such as Procore. Jarrett Construction uses Procore as a project management platform to help manage jobs.
“Our new teammate, Ryan Perry, will be graduating in May with a Procore certification. It would normally take us several weeks and many hours of work to train someone with no Procore experience,” Jarrett said.
Jason Hunter, vice president of operations at Triton Construction, hired another of the construction management graduates and had several interns at his company from WVU Tech. He echoes Jarrett’s sentiment.
“Tech students are equipped with industry-applicable knowledge and problem-solving skills. They all have a strong desire to learn, are willing to work hard and understand building concepts,” Hunter said.
With jobs awaiting them after graduation and the anticipation of finishing their studies, all the students agreed: they are thrilled to graduate and be the first graduates of the program.
“I practiced graduation walking in my dorm,” Staines laughed.
The WVU Tech Groundbreaking Ceremony will take place Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m. at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center.
For more information on Beginning, visit wvutech.edu/beginning.
Questions about commencement can be sent to [email protected]