When he graduates in May, Brody Caster, a construction major from Douglas, Kansas, will already have a solid resumé: he served as project manager for a pavilion he and his classmates spent last semester building at Schlanger Park in Pittsburg.  

“We developed the scope, created design concepts, and carried out the construction,” he said.  

The client, the Parks & Recreation Department, paid for the materials.  

“Our project is 100-percent student run, and the independent aspect of it is really valuable,” Caster said. 

Since faculty started the capstone projects program in the School of Construction 20 years ago, students have learned in a real-world way what they soon will do for a profession — estimating, conceptual design work, getting quotes for materials, pouring concrete, building, billing and invoices, and more — while helping area schools, museums, trails, churches, and parks. 

Assistant Professor Christopher Pross said the program is one reason recruiters routinely choose PSU graduates over others. 

“In academia, we can give them all the book learning they need, but none of that means anything if they don’t actually get out and apply what we’ve taught them,” Pross said. “When I was a student at another university, my senior project was a full-blown design and estimate, but I hardly got to go to the project site, hardly used my hands. Here, we’re giving them a real-world experience of placing steel, pouring concrete — all of it.” 

The students said they appreciated the chance to create something lasting for the community. 

“It’s a neat feeling, to be able to work on something and at the end of the day, take a step back and say, ‘I built that’,” said Logan McArthur, a senior from Lamar, Missouri. “And as alumni, when we come back and see families using it, we can take pride in it and know that we made a difference.”