PNC Construction Club Connects Students with Professionals

Construction-Club-BreakfastMembers of the Purdue University North Central Construction Club recently hosted a networking breakfast to connect students with area professionals, showcase the PNC Construction Engineering and Management Technology program and raise money for the La Porte County Habitat for Humanity.

The Construction Club has been part of the PNC campus for more than 25 years. Its alumni work throughout Indiana and across the country.

“The breakfast provided a unique opportunity for PNC students to meet with a number of reputable companies,” said Robert Kennedy, Construction Club vice president and a key organizer of the event. “It is not very often that these businesses get together in the same room to network with students. Most wanted to attend because they were interested in hiring students for internships and full-time positions.”

Event sponsors were: Berglund Construction, Inc., Chesterton; DA Dodd, Inc., Rolling Prairie; DH2W Architects, Michigan City; La Porte County Solid Waste District; Performance Services, Indianapolis; Rieth-Riley Construction, located throughout Indiana and the Midwest; The Troyer Group, South Bend; Tonn & Blank Construction, Michigan City; Wall Constructors LLC, Michigan City and Ziolkowski Construction, Inc., South Bend.

Construction Club members, PNC College of Engineering and Technology students, faculty, business professionals and representatives of La Porte County Habitat for Humanity got to know one another.

“This is an ideal time for students to establish relationships with potential employers,” said Martha Garcia-Saenz, associate professor of Construction Engineering and Management Technology and Construction Club faculty advisor. “For some, it is a kind of interview in an informal setting.”

By speaking with the professionals, students explored the many career options available to get a better idea of how they may apply their talents. Students learned what employers look for when hiring and the guests were happy to answer questions.

“The students were fascinated by their conversations with the professionals,” said Garcia-Saenz. “The breakfast was like a blind date, no one knew who they would sit with, but maybe some found their match by the end of breakfast.”

Kennedy has more than 10 years of experience in the field. “I’ve worked primarily in the federal public works sector on large projects across the U.S.,” he explained. “I served in many capacities, primarily in project management and safety management. My most notable experience was as project manager for concrete cutting/removal operations in Wedge 3 at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks.”

He worked with a bridge removal and installation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, did approach lighting upgrades at an airport, worked in construction safety management at BP Oil Refinery in Whiting, was with a Sinclair Oil Refinery in Wyoming and a 100 million-gallon Ethenol Plant in Illinois.

He is earning a PNC degree to enhance his credentials. Eventually, he would like to own a construction management firm.

Bob Long, executive director of La Porte County Habitat for Humanity, welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the evolving relationship between PNC and La Porte County Habitat.

“Rob Kennedy took the lead in re-connecting the Construction Club with Habitat,” said Long. “He conceived of and organized the event and solicited volunteers to work on home builds. I visualize this relationship expanding. The combination of students willing to learn and an organization in need of committed, enthusiastic volunteers is a winning combination. I look forward to the possibility of a more formal collaboration with PNC.”

Kennedy noted that the club connected Habitat with Continental Carpentry Components, a local roof and floor truss manufacturer, to provide roof and floor trusses for two recent habitat houses. Club members volunteered with the most recent house in Michigan City.

Breakfast guests signed a 2x4 that will become part of the next LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity home.

“We appreciate the support of the administration, staff, students and Construction Club for furthering our mission of providing decent, affordable homes to families in our community.”

Ziolkowski Construction, general contractor for the PNC Student Services and Activities Complex, will give the Construction Club access to the job site so students can observe, discuss and learn.

The Construction Club has a team working on a project for the National Association of Home Builders construction competition in Las Vegas in January. The project, due Dec. 27, asks students to design, prepare a construction estimate and budget; construction schedule; cash flow projections; project management and organization; marketing plan and risk analysis; project site plan; land development plan and green building initiatives for a 40-acre development in Tennessee.

The students are expected to submit professional-level plans and construction company executives acting as judges expect the same work as they would from any builder or contractor.

Learn more about the Construction Club at