Four Myers-Lawson Grads Who Are Constructing the Future
What’s exceptional about Myers-Lawson School of Construction grads? It’s hard to name just one thing.
They’re an extraordinarily close-knit, proud bunch, loyal to their programs and each other, with a strong sense of service. Those qualities make them highly coveted in the construction industry, where they enjoy 100 percent employment prior to graduation with some of the nation’s top firms.
Meet four outstanding 2017 MLSoC graduates:
Ben Carpenter: Bullish on Building Construction
Hometown: Round Hill, VA
Job: Field engineer for Skanska USA Building, in Tysons Corner, Virginia
What do you do in your job? My job is in the construction management field – overseeing subcontractors, safety concerns, coordinating construction work, quality control, and a variety of other tasks. Initially, I’m assigned to the construction of a 20-story, high-rise building.
How did you land your job? I interned at Skanska two summers and a winter, and was offered a full-time position before starting my senior year.
How was your major and MLSoC helpful to you? Building Construction is the best major at Virginia Tech! Every class had relevant, real-world applications that helped me succeed in my daily tasks as a student and intern, and in my current job as a field engineer.
What’s the greatest thing about MLSoC and your department/program? Number One: Faculty/Staff. Every professor is always willing to assist students at any time of the day. They all have open-door policies, offer great career advice, have expansive industry knowledge and connections, and really love construction and the future of the industry.
Number Two: Industry Support and Involvement. The construction industry support to MLSoC and the students is tremendous. There are unbelievable job opportunities and the career fair is always packed with great companies that care about our future.
What was the most interesting project you worked on during your time at Virginia Tech? I was part of a team of four Building Construction students that built a replica model of Burruss Hall, in the style of a children’s playhouse for Habitat for Humanity. It was raffled off in Bristol, Tennessee, before the Battle at Bristol.
Stephanie Morales: First-Generation Grad Serves Country and Industry
Hometown: Freeport, NY
Job: Surface Warfare Officer on the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) out of Norfolk, Virginia.
How did you land your job? Naval ROTC and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.
How was your major and MLSoC helpful to you? Construction Engineering Management is an amazing, hands-on engineering degree with a supportive, family atmosphere for a first-generation student trying to keep my degree affordable. MLSoC gave me ample opportunities for internships, service trips, and networking relationships, which have proven invaluable.
What’s the greatest thing about MLSoC and your program? The faculty! Everyone wants to help and see each student succeed. I have not yet (after 5 years) come across a professor or staff member in MLSoC that has not wanted the best for each student.
What was the most interesting/fulfilling project you worked on during your time at Virginia Tech? My spring break service trip to Kaua’i, Hawaii, through the Peacework organization. A group of Virginia Tech Building Construction, CEM, and A+D students helped construct a garden facility for a local Hawaiian immersion school as part of an initiative to ensure that all students, including low-income students who qualify for a school food lunch program, have access to healthy, local, culturally relevant foods.
Were there any opportunities you had as a student in MLSoC that you believe were extraordinary for a college student? Getting to go on trips to the steel mill, concrete plant, and Hokie Stone Quarry!
Is there anything noteworthy about your background or journey to Virginia Tech? I am the first to graduate college in my immediate family. My family migrated to the U.S. from Colombia 25 years ago with the intention of a better life for their kids.
James Martin: Construction Servant-Leader
Hometown: Woodbridge, VA
Job: Field engineer at Allan Myers in Fairfax, Virginia.
What do you do in your job? I have been assigned to work on a large project adding express lanes to I-66 in Northern Virginia to help reduce traffic.
How did you land your job? In 2014, the vice president of Allan Myers came to one of my classes and gave a lecture on effective communication in the workplace. He said that he would hang around after class for a few minutes to answer any questions we had. My dad’s words rang in my head (“Always look for opportunities to network!”) and I decided to talk to him. To make a long story short, I was offered an internship with Allan Myers for the summer of 2015 as a laborer. I interned again with the company in the summer of 2016 as an assistant field engineer. At the end of that summer internship, I was offered a full-time position.
How was your major and MLSoC helpful to you? I believe that this major has taught me everything that I need to know to get a good running start to my career. Before coming to Virginia Tech, I knew hardly anything about engineering; just that I wanted to do it. Now I feel completely prepared for work in the industry. I cannot thank the faculty enough for what they have taught me.
What’s the greatest thing about MLSoC and your department/program? I think that CEM is the best major at Virginia Tech, because it offers a balance of the technical knowledge needed to succeed after graduation and the “soft skills” of communication and management that are also essential. In addition, the School of Construction offers so many resources to grow, such as networking events, seminars, opportunities for undergraduate research, clubs, and the amazing faculty who are always so helpful and supportive.
What was the most interesting/fulfilling project you worked on during your time at Virginia Tech? The most interesting project I worked on was undergraduate research on workforce development in the construction industry through the Simmons Research Lab. My project focused on the differences in leadership training of construction project managers in higher education versus the workplace. I learned a lot about the need to develop leaders, and it inspired me to undertake and provide leadership development and training throughout my career.
Is there anything unusual or noteworthy about your background or journey to Virginia Tech? In 2012, I went with a church group down to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to help with a service project to give running water to a small, poor school in one of the barrios outside the city. A lot of engineers were on that team, and I saw how engineering, construction, and service are all intertwined. After that experience, I knew I wanted to do engineering, and I chose to go to Virginia Tech.
Cat Hauser: Industry Partnerships Forge Student Success
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Job: Office engineer at Holder Construction in Dallas, Texas
What will you do in your job? Initially, I will be working on a project with American Airlines.
How did you land your job? I landed my job at the MLSoC Career Fair. I spoke to the representatives from Holder at the Career Fair and then they called me and brought me to Atlanta for an interview.
How was your major and MLSoC helpful to you? Through my major I’ve been exposed to many industry partners in career fairs, seminars, and classes throughout the year. They present different topics to us and answer any questions we might have. Building Construction also encourages multiple internships before graduation, allowing us to gain real-world experience to help us land a job when we graduate.
What’s the greatest thing about MLSoC and your program? I always say it’s the people that make the whole program. The best part about Building Construction is the tight-knit community we have. We have a common area in Bishop-Favrao where we study and we all know each other and get along really well.
What was the most interesting project you worked on during your time at Virginia Tech? I was part of a four-person team that got to design all the steel aspects for a three-story building. It was fulfilling to see everything we have been learning come to fruition.
What extraordinary opportunities did MLSoC afford you? MLSoC’s industry ties are first-rate. The support from industry partners who really care played a major role in our education and career development. From talking to our classes and hosting information sessions to coming to our Career Fairs and offering internship opportunities, our partners are very committed to helping MLSoC students succeed in the industry.