Finding the perfect fit in construction management

Story by Dan Ricci

Harrison Tucker took a longer journey than most to find the CSU Department of Construction Management. Tucker was born in Indianapolis, but moved frequently due to his father’s work as a civil engineer. His parents divorced when he was in kindergarten, and he spent the rest of his youth in Los Alamos, New Mexico, with his mother.

After high school he attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, with the intention of getting a mechanical engineering degree. While he met his fiancé, Ingrid, at NAU, he did not find the program to his liking and decided to take a break from school. Considering his career options, he took a job as a school bus driver while Ingrid completed her bachelor’s degree.

After Ingrid graduated, she wanted to pursue her master’s degree and applied to CSU’s Counseling and Career Development program. The possibility of moving to Fort Collins was exciting for Tucker. While he didn’t remember much about it, his family had lived in Fort Collins for a short time when he was 3. His parents always talked about how much they enjoyed Fort Collins and how they wished they could move back. CSU accepted Ingrid and they relocated to Fort Collins.

Tucker continued doing what he knew – driving buses for Poudre School District. But one of Ingrid’s classmates was a part-time adviser for the Department of Construction Management, and when he learned about the program Tucker knew that it was a perfect fit for him.

Tucker returned to school while continuing to work full-time for PSD. To accommodate his schedule and help with the cost of tuition, he chose to complete an associate’s degree at Front Range Community College before transferring to CSU to complete his bachelor of science in construction management. For Tucker this meant getting up at 4 a.m. to complete his morning bus route, attending classes until midday, and then returning to work until 6 p.m. or later to complete his afternoon route. He completed his A.S. in a year and a half and transferred to CSU.

But Tucker’s work and school schedule were becoming increasingly difficult to balance. While PSD tried to accommodate his schedule, Tucker decided that school had to come first. While leaving his job was the right decision academically, the potential financial implications were daunting. Luckily for Tucker, he had interned with RK Mechanical during the summer of 2015, and they offered him a flexible, part-time position working on the Aggie Village and CSU Biology Building projects during the school year. He also received the Kushner/Knaus Family Scholarship and the Associated General Contractors Future Leaders Forum Committee Scholarship, both of which helped offset some of the cost of his education.

Tucker took full advantage of resources the department offered. His belief in the importance of the design-build model led him to join the DBIA student club, where he served as president for two semesters. He organized frequent events and tours, and rebuilt the club’s flagging membership. He also participated extensively with CM Cares and took advantage of the mentorship and guidance offered by the CM faculty.

“The passion of all of the instructors is second to none,” he said. “It would be impossible to make it through the program without someone noticing you.”

Tucker singled out Jon Elliott, Jeff Wilkes and Mike O’Reilly for their passion for their subjects and their patience in instruction.

Khristy Preston, who manages the CM Cares program, said of Tucker, “He was a great student and a passionate, committed volunteer before becoming a project leader for the CM Cares Leadership course. His commitment to the Schneider project made a huge impact on the lives of the family.”