On the third floor of the General Services building, Assistant Director of Facilities Management Cass Beitler sits at his desk surrounded by half a dozen desks strewn with papers, calendar pages and sticky notes. These desks belong to CSU students who are part of a team that help facilitate construction projects on campus.
“I see them come in inexperienced and unsure of themselves, and then as they go through the processes they begin to learn more and they become more self confident,” Beitler said. “They understand how a project is put together from concept through completion.”
Each student takes part in anywhere from about five to 15 projects at one time, and there are eight projects per project manager. The students get to have hands-on experience through the entire process, from attending planning meetings in the initial stages, to checking in on the jobsite as construction is underway.
“We’ll have them run small projects so that they can go all the way from acquiring an architect, going through their design phase, bidding the project and overseeing the construction,” Beitler said. “I see self confidence increasing tremendously. I see them able to work effectively in a professional environment. When you get them around the table with architects and engineers and department heads of the college, then you quickly earn to act professional and speak correctly.”
As a student who is not a construction management major, Alyssa Miller said learning all the construction terminology was challenging but the experience has been rewarding overall.
“Sometimes it’s really hard and frustrating because I’ll sit in meetings and I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Miller said.
Despite feeling lost at times, the experience for Miller, an international studies major, has been beneficial because she has learned skills that will help her professionally, regardless of the field she pursues.
“I’m more of an introvert so in my job I’m forced to be the in-between between CSU and outside contractors, so learning to communicate, finding my voice and being bold and confident in the role I have has been really important,” Miller said.
One of the projects Miller has been able to see from start to finish is the Durrell Center. She started her freshmen year and the center will open next fall – her senior year.
“I’ve been there since they started all the preliminary designs so I was part of all the beginning design meetings,” Miller said. “It’s been awesome to see the process all the way from design to construction.”
Matthew Feuer, an assistant project manager and construction management graduate student, said 75 percent of his day is ether at his desk or in meetings. The remaining time is spent on the jobsite.
Feuer agreed with Miller’s sentiments, saying the finished building is the most rewarding part of any project.
“Being able to see the progress after working on a project for multiple months is rewarding,” Feuer said. “A completed building is very satisfying.”
As a female new to the field, Miller said she feels a little out of place when she visits the jobsites.
“Being a young female has been hard,” Miller said. “When you walk to job sites and there are men working on the job site, they don’t think you know as much or they don’t respect your opinion as much or they don’t know why you’re there … not that I feel disrespected, but I’ve had to learn to be confident in the skill that I have and even though I’m a female student and they’re all older than me and have more experience, I need to go in confident.”
While the work has helped Miller come out of her shell, she said she also likes contributing to CSU’s legacy.
“It’s really cool to know I’m apart of something thousands of people will walk through and see,” Miller said. “The legacy that our buildings will have … when I come back in 20 years I’ll be able to say I was part of the construction of that building.”
Senior Reporter Kate Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.