NPCA Foundation scholarship opens a world of potential for a Purdue University student.
By Mason Nichols
Childhood is wonderful. It’s filled with joy, exciting possibilities and the belief that anything can happen. It’s also a critical period in our development. Recent research suggests a child’s personality is set for life by the time he or she enters first grade.1 For NPCA Foundation scholarship recipient Jared Schimmelpfenning, a sophomore at Purdue University, childhood experiences inspired the pursuit of a construction engineering and management career.
Schimmelpfenning spent plenty of time working with his hands while growing up in central Illinois. Projects varied, but you could always find him alongside his dad and grandfather, helping in any way he could.
“I would push wheelbarrows with concrete and whatnot, just working with them and trying to learn as much as possible,” Schimmelpfenning said. “That’s kind of where it all started.”
His love for construction continued to grow from there. In high school, he took a job at his grandfather’s pattern making business. As his skills continued to sharpen, Schimmelpfenning developed an interest in management to pair with his love for hands-on construction. This ultimately led to the decision to select his major and attend Purdue.
Being an NPCAF scholarship recipient has opened the door to many opportunities for Schimmelpfenning. He secured an internship in Texas with Kiewit last summer, where he worked on the massive $1.1 billion DFW Connector project.2 His role on the job varied, but he primarily worked with the paving, soil nail and maintenance of traffic groups. Schimmelpfenning said he took an important lesson away from his experience.
“I learned a lot about how important it is to plan and coordinate things ahead of time,” he said. “That way, issues don’t transfer out and materialize in the field – you can avoid them before they become a problem.”
He also worked in the field and operated some of the heavy Caterpillar machinery on site. This held special importance to him, as both his dad and grandfather have worked for the company.
In addition to his time in Texas, Schimmelpfenning has benefitted from being a part of the Associated Builders and Contractors club at Purdue. The group is currently participating in a national competition to determine which team has the best project management skills.
“The national organization gives us a set of plans for an already completed project and we are required to write the management plan, hazard analyses and everything revolving around pre-construction,” he said. “Our project is a museum in Colorado that consists primarily of precast concrete panels.”
The experience offers yet another way to improve his management skills as he works toward earning his degree. It also provides an opportunity for him to learn more about precast concrete, a building material he already has a vast knowledge about.
“In my opinion, precast has a lot of benefits and can really broaden the opportunities available when building a project,” he said. “Being able to manufacture precast components in a controlled space really increases the quality of the overall product.”
Schimmelpfenning cited the NPCAF scholarship as key to his ability to take advantage of the opportunities available to him at Purdue. He also noted that his experience has provided him with the solid foundation needed for his career.
“The NPCA Foundation has made a huge difference in my life,” he said.
As he seeks to perfect his craft, Schimmelpfenning will continue to benefit from the groundwork laid while operating alongside family in his early years. This, coupled with funding from the NPCAF scholarship, has Schimmelpfenning primed for future success.
Mason Nichols is the managing editor of Precast Solutions magazine and is NPCA’s external communication and marketing manager.
2 The DFW Connector project’s goal was to double the size of the existing highway system around the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to better accommodate traffic in the area.