April 07, 2017 12:00AM
But for two days in April, the KTC got a major upgrade.
More than $10 million worth of construction-related equipment was at the KTC April 4 and 5 for the College of Technology’s annual Construction Expo. The event gives Pitt State and regional high school students the chance to observe and operate some of the industry’s latest and best equipment.
“We work hard every year to make the expo bigger than the year before,” said Seth O’Brien, assistant professor the School of Construction. “We definitely accomplished that this year. We had more equipment, more vendors and more people here than any year before. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger, which is great for many reasons.”
One example of the event’s growth is the presence of a Vortex Crane Simulator, a platform valued at $1 million brought to the expo by Kiewit.
“That baby is absolutely awesome, and it’s definitely a unique experience for our students that they may not be able to get anywhere else,” O’Brien said. “That Kiewit would agree to bring that to our event is a prime example of how our sponsors and industry partners are helping to make this a truly spectacular event.”
Along with the hands-on portion of the expo, the more than 800 attendees also had the chance to hear from some of the industry’s leading professionals. Guest speakers and workshop hosts included Attorney Susan McGreevy of Stinson Leonard Street, Ben Wiese from MultiQuip, Jim Mullins from Butterfield Color and Al Landes, president of the Associated General Contractors of America.
“The overall mission of the expo is the enhance the students’ educational experience,” O’Brien said. “We do that by giving them a chance to get their hands dirty, but we also want them to hear from the pros in the field. High-level guests can both motivate and challenge our students to do their best and excel at all that they do.”
O’Brien said another new aspect this year was how many industry pros signed up to attend simply to observe the event.
“We had more than 60 people come just to see the show,” he said. “Many of them told us that this is by far the largest and best construction expo in the Midwest. It’s definitely getting a reputation throughout the industry, and that’s wonderful both for our program and the entire university.”
While much of the hands-on exhibits were for demonstration purposes, it wasn’t all for show. During the expo, the university and industry partners came together to improve the driveway between the Kansas Technology Center and the Robert W. Plaster Center.
“The driveway that connects the two was asphalt, and the university would have to re-cover it quite often,” O’Brien said. “So we told the university that if they’d pay for the materials, we’d provide the labor during the expo and make it a concrete driveway.
“The best part about that little project is that much of the equipment and labor was donated by our industry partners,” he said. “Those donations probably saved the university between $20,000 and $30,000.”