July 24, 2019
Blog

Clark’s SDSU Alumni Prepare Next Generation of Students for Careers in Construction

Community involvement is a core component of each Clark Construction project. It begins long before ground is broken, and it continues long after the final product is delivered to the client. This is especially true on projects at college campuses where we have the opportunity to work closely with students. To date, Clark has delivered three projects on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus, including the SDSU Trolley Station, Engineering Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex, and Huāxyacac Hall. Clark looks forward to continuing its connection with SDSU on the new multi-use stadium and the SDSU Mission Valley campus expansion proposed for the SDCCU stadium site. 

Clark’s ongoing work with SDSU has provided the unique opportunity to work closely with students to prepare them for rewarding careers in construction. 

The Clark and SDSU Connection

Nima Nasirpour (right), a Clark Summer Associate and SDSU student with Rafael Galaviz (left), an Assistant Superintendent on the Huāxyacac Hall project. 

In 2001, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Board selected Clark Construction on a development project to extend rail service from SDSU’s main campus to Mission Valley East. This was Clark’s first project on the SDSU campus. Carlos Gonzalez, a SDSU alumnus and current Senior Vice President and Regional Executive Officer at Clark, remembers that project well. Working for an excavation and deep foundations subcontractor at the time, the opportunity to enter the general contracting world and see the full scope of the construction process piqued his interest. He would join the Clark team as a project manager on Petco Park in San Diego later that summer of 2001. SDSU alumni Mike Mossutto, Matt Gerard, and Jesse Doty also joined Clark as interns at Petco Park and SDSU Trolley Station projects the following year.

Students enrolled in the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering program at SDSU benefit from relevant coursework and direct connections to the San Diego area construction industry. “The professors were knowledgeable and demanding,” Carlos recalled. “That was complimented with an environment where students were encouraged to get involved with the industry.” Each SDSU project has allowed the Clark team to further its connection by providing students with meaningful mentorship opportunities and real-world experience. Clark is proud to have hired more than 30 SDSU students and alumni over the years with several being promoted into leadership positions within the organization.

Real-World Application

Clark representatives frequently serve as panelists, guest lecturers and industry mentors, and provide student tours of construction sites on the SDSU campus. For the past five years, Clark along with other local firms, have prepared students for the Associated Schools of Construction competition. In 2015, SDSU placed first in two categories - electrical & virtual design and construction, and third place in preconstruction services. Opportunities like these are a “win-win”—Clark professionals are energized by the students’ fresh ideas and students have the advantage of a stellar resume-building opportunity.

Many SDSU students have spent their summers working at Clark. Whether working on projects at SDSU or trying a different locale at one of Clark’s offices around the country, the students’ time at Clark provides hands-on, real world experience to compliment their academic studies.

Clark team members mentor and coach SDSU's Commercial team that competes at the ASC competition.

"I started interning with Clark right after I finished my sophomore year at SDSU. I interned on the Pacific Beacon and UCSD North Campus Housing Phase 2 projects for my remaining three years, and once I graduated in 2011, I started full time with Clark,” said Wendy Bohn, Senior Project Manager. “Interning with Clark supplemented my classes by giving me the opportunity to interact with our owners, engineers, and trade partners out on a jobsite. This taught me the importance of relationships in construction.”

Wendy is just one of several SDSU graduates who now work full-time with Clark Construction. Her portfolio includes roles on the Highland Hospital Acute Tower Replacement, U.S. Courthouse-Los Angeles, and a renovation at Petco Park. Eager to give back to her alma mater, she recognizes the value of mentoring: “I love working with students and recent graduates because they question how and why we do the things we do on our projects.” Mike Mossuto echoed this sentiment. “It is my hope that students’ internship experience is personal and top notch…[and] that all students come out wanting to work for Clark.”

Clark encourages mentorship at all levels of the organization and embraces its value in terms of recruiting the next generation of construction industry professionals. Recent SDSU graduate Alex Mertens cited the connection with his mentor as responsible for expanding his knowledge of general contracting. Alex said, “My mentor, Patrick Sanford, pushed me out of my comfort zone to promote my development. He shared his lessons learned, which expedited my learning curve.” Alex, now a full-time project engineer with Clark joins the ranks of SDSU alumni before him who were ready to add value to their project team on day one.

The Clark team constructing Huāxyacac Hall provides a tour to SDSU students studying Construction Engineering.

The recent award of SDSU’s multi-use stadium and Mission Valley Campus Site Contract to Clark provides the opportunity to continue the tradition of creating learning opportunities for SDSU students. The proposed new, 35,000-capacity stadium will be the home to collegiate football, professional and collegiate soccer, NCAA championship games, concerts, and other events. This undertaking will be SDSU’s first step in expanding its Mission Valley footprint and extending the campus west. Clark intends to engage SDSU students throughout each phase of the construction process.

In addition to delivering facilities that meet the ever-expanding needs of a growing campus population, the partnership with SDSU is complimented by Clark’s approach to serving as a trusted advisor while creating enriching industry experiences and learning opportunities for students each step of the way.