CEE Senior and Team Win Competition at ASCE Construction Institute

Sept. 27, 2022

By Holly Hinson

Civil & Environmental Engineering Senior Jackson Matheis and his team won first place in the competition component of the 2022 American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) Construction Institute Student Days July 29 through August 2.

CI Student Days gathers students from all over the country – through an application process – for a four-and-a-half-day program, which includes technical and career development sessions presented by members of CI Board and local industry members, an industry panel on career opportunities, speed networking, a team-building scavenger hunt and a technical post-construction tour. This year’s event in Charleston, South Carolina, marked the first Student Days in person after two years as a virtual event.

Matheis’ team, “Construction Institute Builders,” earned first place in the heavy civil challenge, a centerpiece of the Student Days program. “It was a real-life three mile highway widening project that started at the Georgia border and went into South Carolina, and it went right through a marsh,” said Matheis. “That was one of the challenges we were presented when we got the project overview.”

The student teams had to build out complete construction timelines and budgets and present their plans to a panel of judges that included some of the SC DOT engineers who worked on the real project.

“On the team, everybody’s from a different university in a different area of the country,” said Matheis. “It was a good variety of people and each person had their own unique experiences, whether it be construction, both vertical and horizontal, or in engineering,” he said.

Matheis felt like he was well-prepared to lend his skills for the project after two co-op rotations at local company Messer Construction. “Each person had a unique skill set and experiences that made them excel in a certain area, so figuring out what each member brings to the team and where their strengths lie is key,” he said. “Teamwork is one of the most important skill sets to have as an engineer because almost every project that you work on, you have to work with people of different engineering disciplines, as well as the public, government officials, whoever it might be.”

Matheis, who graduates in May 2023, said growing up, he followed in his father’s footsteps, a construction worker. “We kind of bonded over talking about construction to this day,” he said. “I’ve always had this genuine interest in design and construction of infrastructure.”

The senior said his co-op experiences have been an especially satisfying part of his Speed School experience. “I had the opportunity to work with some great professionals, really knowledgeable people who have taught me so much I couldn’t have learned within the classroom.” He will complete his last co-op rotation over the summer at Messer and will work there as a full-time project engineer upon graduation.

A native of Louisville, Matheis said his next big goal after graduation is to gain field experience to get his licensure to become a professional engineer.

“UofL and Speed School and the Civil Engineering department specifically, has been great,” said Matheis. “It’s a very good community and my professors always have their doors open, they’re willing to give you advice or help you through anything that you’re going through in class or in life.”

From a more macro perspective, Matheis said Speed School has taught him critical thinking skills, which he can take with him wherever he goes. “I’ve learned how to learn,” he said. “In the classroom and the workplace, I think engineering is using the fundamental knowledge to take these big, complex problems we face and breaking it down to simpler, smaller problems.”