My name is Michael Clark. I’m studying Civil Engineering and minoring in Military Science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. My internship this summer was with Nova Group Inc., a contractor for the federal government. Nova’s work is almost entirely for the military, which resonated with my background from Army ROTC. Construction operations and officership share a lot in common. Every individual comes to the table with a different background. Tradespeople and enlisted typically have the greatest depth of knowledge in their particular field. The opportunity to Leverage these strengths in a team environment is why I’m passionate about construction.
My dad was a GC who introduced me to the industry at age 11. At that time, we moved from San Francisco into the country. This move allowed me to grow up with open space and have freedom to create. One particular project we inherited is a 1951 Ferguson TO-30 tractor. It took me years of YouTube videos, but it runs to this day. In that new location, I helped him build the home we live in today. He taught me to use a nail gun and that was it, I was sold.
I worked in a lumberyard during high school. Learning to drive a forklift was intimidating, yet exciting. Lifting 4,000lbs from a rack 16’ above ground is a trepid task. Dropping that bundle of T1-11 siding was not an option. Sadly, I think my days of operating heavy machinery at work are over. It’s a safe practice to leave this to the professionals. This time in the yard also built a foundational understanding of building materials and their use. Surprisingly, it served as a significant advantage in college courses, where problems seemed less arbitrary. In the lumberyard, I viewed construction close from the sidelines and my interest grew.
The week college began for me, I joined The Cal Poly ASCE Steel Bridge Team. It has been an incredible privilege to participate in the competition for all 4 years of my education. Our team has consistently placed in the top 3 for the last 3 years. I became the project manager for this final year. Our 15-20 members design, analyze, fabricate, and construct at competition a 1:10 scale model of an entirely steel bridge. Fabrication and assembly are my two favorite elements, another reason why I’m into construction. The greatest skill garnered from bridge so far is the use of a CNC mill. These machines are mesmerizing and it’s a skill that has turned into an addiction. It amounts to solving a puzzle you created yourself, yet the answer isn’t immediately apparent. Cal Poly’s machine is repeatable to .0002”. It’s the perfect blend of excitement and surgical tool. I’m still waiting for the right moment to propose purchasing one to the Nova shop manager.
I previously interned two summers for structural engineers. I’m quiet and shy, but I love interacting with people. Especially in a team setting and solving spatial problems. Construction is the perfect fit for that.
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