What began as a small event a few years ago has grown to a large expo featuring live demonstrations, student competitions, more than 60 vendors from across the nation, and an anticipated 600 guests from across the Four State region.
It also serves as a vital link between a growing industry — construction — and prospective hires as young as high school.
The School of Construction Expo, now in its sixth year, is planned for April 3-4 at the state-of-the-art Kansas Technology Center on the campus of Pittsburg State University. It’s designed for students from high schools, community colleges, and other universities from throughout the area, as well as contractors, instructors, and Pittsburg State students.
On Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests will have the opportunity to operate construction equipment, explore new technology, and get hands-on experience using construction-related tools.
Guests also can explore displays ranging from decorative concrete to grade-controlled equipment. This year, the event will include a virtual reality demonstration in which a vendor will show students how to create a 3D model, and a $1.5 million “toy” that students will get to operate themselves. And, teams of students are invited to compete in the concrete competition.
Organizer Seth O’Brien, an associate professor in the School of Construction, said many seniors in high school have received job offers on the spot at the Construction Expo in the past.
“More companies than ever are looking for qualified students to fill jobs in a growing industry,” he said. “Crossland Construction, in our own back yard, has expressed a desire to hire 50 incoming university freshmen, as just one example.”
This year’s event also will feature sessions for teachers by two noted speakers, both of whom will speak in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom in the Overman Student Center.
David Miles, the Beavers Association Distinguished Speaker and president of Kiewit Infrastructure, will speak from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 3. Kiewit is one of North America’s largest contractors and has recruited Pittsburg State students for many years. As a Fortune 300 company, Kiewit had 2015 revenues of more than $9 billion and consistently ranks among the top five contractors by Engineering News-Record.
The employee-owned company operates through a network of offices and projects in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Eddie Stewart, president of AGC of America and CEO of Caddell Construction, will speak from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 4. Caddell Construction works in the U.S. and in 34 countries. A graduate of Georgia Tech and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Stewart is currently in his 40th year in construction in domestic and international markets. His project background includes embassies, correctional facilities, courthouses, barracks, military family housing, airports, power plants, research and development complexes, hospitals, and other commercial and industrial initiatives.
Both sessions are free to attend and will count for continuing education units.