By Matt Werner
Growing up in Garfield, N.J., Nikolaos Benyamin had typical interests – he loved going fishing and playing sports, particularly soccer, tennis and track.
But once his older sister Narguis, a Concrete Industry Management major at New Jersey Institute of Technology, started telling him about the things she was learning, he soon had another interest – concrete.
Hearing what his sister was able to learn and achieve in her major, Benyamin followed her footsteps and now attends NJIT and is in the CIM program majoring in engineering technology. He is also a recipient of a National Precast Concrete Association Foundation scholarship.
“I am a very independent person, and everything I am responsible for, I pay for, including my college tuition,” Benyamin said. “The reason I am independent is because I was raised that way. My parents raised me to be responsible at a young age, so I can be prepared for what the real world can throw.”
He first learned of the scholarship when he attended The Precast Show 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio, and went to a student networking session. He saw it as a great opportunity to help him pay for college and gain valuable work experience.
“Once (at The Precast Show), I met other students and industry professionals, and the NPCA team gave out the applications for the NPCA Foundation Scholarship,” he said. “I took it and applied, and the rest is history.”
The scholarship made it possible for Benyamin to work full time at a precast concrete plant. After serving as an intern at Garden State Precast for 10 weeks, he was hired full time and worked there for nearly a year and a half. Wanting to be a little closer to home, he now works for Peerless Concrete Products Co. He’s enjoyed working at both plants and learning along the way.
“My internship experience has taught me everything I know about the precast industry,” he said. “I learned all areas of how the industry operates. I learned estimating and sales, quality control/assurance, project managing, production and shipping.”
The work experience exposed him to all the benefits of precast concrete, and he sees a bright future for the industry.
“I think precast is the future of the concrete industry,” he noted. “I believe that it is best to create structures in a controlled environment and ship to the job site where they are built like Legos, in simple terms.”
Scheduled to graduate in May 2020, Benyamin is also the president of the NJIT American Concrete Institute Student Chapter. He’s enjoyed everything he’s learned in both the classroom and plant, but the thing he’s liked most is the travel.
“CIM takes students often to conventions for networking and educational purposes,” he said. “(The ACI Student Chapter) provides lots of traveling experience and competition experience where we take our knowledge in classes and put it towards problems given to us by the ACI National Chapter.”
None of this would have been possible without the scholarship he received from the NPCA Foundation.
“With the NPCA Foundation requiring me to work, I have learned a lot of valuable information that I have brought to my classes,” he said. “My work experience has prepared me and gotten me ahead in my school education. The scholarship and resources provided by NPCA have been a huge benefactor in my college career.”
Once he graduates from NJIT, he plans to take the FE exam and eventually the PE exam and he hopes to continue his career in the precast industry.
“I believe that there will be a big rise in the precast industry, and I plan on staying in the industry to see it happen,” he said. “Precast is the future, and possibly, my working in the industry can push it to that future.”
Matt Werner is the managing editor of Precast Solutions magazine and is NPCA’s communication manager.