Jul 072009
Authors: Virginia Singarayar

A green CSU flag, hung high atop campus from a crane, marks the Ram pride of eight members of the construction teams whose CSU education is literally being poured back into the school — in concrete and mortar.

Seven of the 10 members of the operations team for CSU’s soon-to-be Academic Instruction Building are CSU alumni, and one member is a CSU intern.

“They tried to put the best people together, and it just so happens that we are CSU alumni,” said Patrick Gries, senior project engineer for the AIB.

The 90,000-square-foot building, which will be located on Pitkin Street south of the Clark Building, is one of 17 projects on campus, and it has been under construction since January. The project is scheduled to be completed in July 2010.

Pinkard Construction, the contractor for the AIB hired by CSU, assembled a team of their managers to work on the state-of-the-art building, which was designed to meet “green” standards. And Pinkard seems to take a liking to CSU alumni.

It was a mere coincidence that so many alumni ended up working on construction sites at CSU, said Gries, who graduated from CSU in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in construction management.

“We were just picked on our experience,” he added.

Gries acquired a permanent job with Pinkard after doing an internship with the company the summer after he graduated from CSU. He landed the internship when Pinkard and other companies came to CSU to interview students for jobs.

“(CSU) does a good job with getting with the heads of the industry. The (construction management) department has really good involvement with companies in and around the area,” Gries said. “They work with the companies to set up a curriculum to get you ready with a basis a knowledge coming out of college.”

Bryan Oleson, a senior construction management major and project engineer for the AIB, has been interning with Pinkard for the past four summers. Oleson, whose father is a senior VP at Pinkard, spent his entire life “growing up around the company.”

“I’ve known a lot of them for as long as they have worked here,” Oleson said while sitting in the Pinkard trailer looking through paperwork.

Oleson, the only CSU intern on the team, helps on the project by reviewing site plans, and will graduate in December. He will remain working on the project for the final six months of construction.

“It’s awesome working with this team . they’re all good guys,” he said.

Matt Holthouse, the project’s field engineer, was a CSU construction management graduate in the fall of 2005 and a classmate of Gries.

“It’s really rare that a whole team would be made of CSU alumni,” Holthouse said shoveling dirt on the west side of the construction site. “It’s pretty cool.”

Holthouse lives in Fort Collins and has been working with Pinkard for the past year.

“I live seven minutes (from campus), so it’s great for me (to be working at CSU),” Holthouse said. “It’s crazy being on campus again and seeing all the changes.”

Besides the CSU flag hanging high from the crane, CSU Ram stickers can be found on the back of several hard hats, sweatshirts and jackets on site. Even a window on the Pinkard trailer is adorned with a “Colorado State” sticker.

“We are a team out here, and it’s good to have an underlying theme,” Gries said about Ram pride. “It’s definitely nice that we are alumni and we went through the (construction management) program.”

In addition to overseeing the construction of the building, the operations team has been giving tours and talking to students about what they can learn on the job.

“We are able to show students that in a couple years they are going to be doing this work, and we can give them a snapshot of what it is going to be like,” Gries said in regards to Pinkard’s informational sessions with students.

Students interested in learning about the AIB or other sites can take tours with their classes through the construction management program.

“It’s a tough time right now (for students),” Gries said. “Even though it’s a bad time, having a degree in your pocket is still a really good thing to have.”

“Having been here I know what the campus life is like, the professors and what people expect,” he added. “So (the team) puts that into our work around here.”

Editor-in-Chief Virginia Singarayar can be reached at editor@collegian.com.

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