June 5, 2020

Purdue students serving as construction advocates for new residence halls

Two Purdue students have applied their coursework into real-world learning by serving as construction advocates for two new residence halls currently under construction. Meredith Hall South and the recently named Griffin Hall North, formerly Third Street Suites North, are scheduled to open for the Fall 2020 semester. These projects are public-private partnerships and offered a unique opportunity for two students, Jared King and Maura Gibbons, to learn and observe the construction process from early on, and then become customer service advocates to the West Lafayette campus community.

King, a senior in construction management technology, and Gibbons, a junior in construction management, have been learning on-the-job skills, participating in meetings and site visits and communicating project milestones to the public. The communication channels included answering questions and providing weekly updates to a construction blog and photo gallery on the Meredith Hall South and Griffin Hall North websites.

“This experience has taught me a lot,” Gibbons says. “Not only about construction but also about all the personal relationships that go into making a project successful. Plus, it is something great to add to my resume. Not many students get to be involved in a construction project like this.”

King says, “Working with Purdue and Gilbane Building Co. has been a great experience. I’ve been able to watch both of the new residence halls go up and be part of the team to construct them. That will be something I always remember when I return to campus in the future.”

Both students have been earning a paycheck in addition to enhancing their resume. Gilbane Building Co., the design-builder of Meredith Hall South and Griffin Hall North, considered these positions part of the team. King and Gibbons have been integrated into meetings and given rare opportunities to ask questions of industry professionals. They’ve also been able to view plans and join hard-hat tours of the sites where they witnessed the progress of the projects firsthand. 

“Gilbane is honored to be providing two new, state-of-the-art facilities to Purdue and even more excited to have Jared and Maura as valued members of our construction team,” says Lynn Rogien, area manager for Gilbane. “They integrated well into our management team, provided great value to the project and are gaining experience and insight as young professionals that they will take with them in their careers. The design and construction process is complex and exciting; it’s more than building the buildings – it’s about building people who are the leaders in our industry. Maura and Jared are young leaders with a bright future. It’s been our pleasure having them with us.”

This student advocate program through Gilbane was one of the many ways Purdue University Residences strives to connect its residents into leadership and professional development opportunities, a pillar of the new Steps to Leaps initiative. A similar program was established during the building of the Honors College and Residences, where a student was employed to provide updates and answer questions during the construction process. There are numerous programs for students, including UR Global, the Women’s and Men’s Leadership Series, the Executive-in-Residence program and the Residence Hall Association.

“University Residences champions the efforts to tie students’ work in the classroom to the real world,” says Barb Frazee, assistant vice provost for student life and executive director of University Residences. “We were thrilled to work with Gilbane to help provide this opportunity. Jared and Maura interviewed specifically for this role, along with several other students of similar majors living in the residence halls. They both stood out from the applicant pool because of their motivation and potential, and it is clear to see why. Their work not only helped their peers, but prospective students and families looking for information on the newest additions to our on-campus housing offerings.”

“This student advocate program is a clear example of transformative education, part of President Daniels’ Purdue Moves plan,” says Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life.  “It also shows how living on-campus provides unique opportunities for students to learn and grow. It’s another way a Purdue education prepares students to enter the world ready to make an impact on day one.”

King and Gibbons have served in their role as student construction advocates since February 2019. They continued to participate in video conference calls and by providing their weekly blog updates after the Spring 2020 semester moved to online remote learning. King has completed his work with the project, but Gibbons will continue until the halls are complete.

Writer: Liz Evans, lizevans@purdue.edu

Sources: Maura Gibbons, mgibbons@gilbaneco.com
Jared King, jtking@purdue.edu
Barb Frazee, bjfrazee@purdue.edu
Beth McCuskey, bmccuske@purdue.edu
Lynn Rogien, lrogien@gilbaneco.com

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