Tyler Wagner, a 22-year-old Construction Management student, will graduate from Colorado State University in December 2020, and already has professional experience working on behalf of the University. This summer, he took on an internship with JE Dunn, the general contractor for the CSU System’s future CSU Spur campus in north Denver, set to open in 2022. Wagner reflects on his time working on the Spur project as an intern and now part-time staff member, and looks ahead to starting as a full-time project engineer with JE Dunn after graduation.
What led you to choose CSU, and what drew you to pursue an education and career in construction management?
Visiting my older brother in Fort Collins while he was attending CSU persuaded me to attend. I started off thinking I would be a Finance Business major. My dad is a construction manager for an oil and gas company. My grandpa built several houses around Denver in the mid- to late-1900s. I really enjoyed being able to drive around Denver with my family and point out the projects that my grandpa built. Through conversations with my dad and reflecting on my skill sets I found that Construction Management is for me. Putting the two together, I decided that I want to take on larger projects that have the opportunity to positively impact a larger amount of people. Just like driving around Denver looking at projects my grandpa built, I would love the opportunity in the future to drive around and point out projects of my own.
What are your primary, day-to-day responsibilities with JE Dunn at the CSU Spur site?
I really loved my internship with JE Dunn because I had a diverse list of responsibilities. I got some experience in preconstruction, trade partner management, quality, project management, and safety. Those were overall the foundation of my summer with new and challenging tasks presented daily. Now, some of my part-time responsibilities are creating a weekly update report for CSU and the owner’s representative. I track and update our self-perform concrete pours, as well. I also update the drawings with posted RFIs and COBs.
How did you first find out about and get involved with JE Dunn and the CSU Spur campus construction?
I first got into contact with JE Dunn at the CSU Construction Management Career Fair my sophomore year. I had really good conversations with everyone at their booth. After the career fair, JE Dunn took a select few out to dinner, and I was one of them. Everyone I met at JE Dunn was really happy to be working for the company; everyone knew each other and honestly enjoyed talking to one another. At the dinner, one JE Dunn employee made a point that really stuck out to me: he told me to ask around and I would find that so many people at JE Dunn have been there for a substantial amount of time. A large number of JE Dunn employees started their career with the company and still work there. The company culture is very strong, and I immediately felt comfortable.
What excites you most about this CSU Spur project, and the opportunity to work with JE Dunn?
This is a good one. First of all, I am looking forward to seeing the finished product of the campus. I have had a great opportunity being able to get on this project so early on. So, I am very excited to see it go from dirt to an amazing piece of architecture that will all in all improve the way we interact and aid our animals and the agriculture that surrounds us.
I am very excited to graduate in December and start working full-time at JE Dunn. The Construction Management program at CSU was a superb foundation for me to start my career as a project engineer, but I absolutely still have so much to learn and JE Dunn has and will be there every step of the way. Each of my peers have helped me this summer in numerous ways. I am most interested in the project management side of construction.
As a CSU student, do you see any particularly valuable aspects around working on a CSU System project like the Spur campus?
I think it is beneficial. The summer of my sophomore year I worked as a field engineer intern with a former employer that built the Natural Resources Building on CSU’s Fort Collins campus. In both projects I have learned that CSU’s foundation of learning carries over to all of its endeavors. In each instance, every CSU employee has been extremely helpful and open to all my questions as an intern. This has given me useful experience into seeing how the owner of the project operates during construction. Like they always say: “Rams take care of Rams.”
What are your goals and aspirations beyond this internship, after graduating from CSU?
My goal is to grasp as much knowledge as possible from my project team. The Spur project team is full of individuals with great experience and knowledge. My career goal on the project management path is to grow as a project engineer and become a project manager down the road.
My biggest passion outside of construction is cooking and baking. I learned to cook and bake from my mom and Italian grandmother. In my free time I learn new cooking skills and recipes. I cook every day and really enjoy it, especially cooking for my family and friends! I have a two-year-old goldendoodle named Tucker, and he surely enjoys the occasional dropped food.
Would you like to share anything else about your internship experience or involvement with the CSU Spur project?
Fun fact: When I was a kid I participated in the National Western Stock Show. I competed in the mutton busting event, and won 2nd place. It is a funny memory; I still have the trophy.
About CSU Spur
In 2022, the CSU System will open CSU Spur, where innovative ideas and unforgettable experiences come to life at the National Western Center. CSU Spur’s three buildings at the center of the landmark project in north Denver will ignite and fuel new ideas around water, food and health and their impact on our lives and our world. Spur is where learning is open and accessible to all. Where researchers tackle the world’s most pressing problems around water, food and health. Where art and culture challenge and surround you. Where rural and urban, local and global intersect. Learn more at csuspur.org.