In the 30-plus years since finishing his construction management degree at Pittsburg State University, James "Tim" Ryan's career has followed a path of upward momentum. From his first job as an inspector for a design firm in Parsons to his current role as codes administrator for Overland Park, he's been an advocate for employees having as much education as possible.
"We created a one-stop shop when I came in, having college-educated inspectors who were multi-disciplined and could look at structural, mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, everything," said Ryan. "I think people with college degrees have a more holistic understanding of how a building was a built, and a better understanding of all the other aspects of it. They're more versed on theory than just the nuts and bolts of it."
Even when one's college years are over, Ryan believes in pursuing opportunities for continued education and leadership. He served with Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA) for more than 10 years before it merged with two other codes management organizations to form the International Code Council (ICC) in 1994. He sat on ICC's board of directors until 2009, during which time he also began serving with the National Institute of Building Sciences. Because that organization was created by Congress, some of the board members are appointment by the president of the United States. This year, Ryan was asked if he'd be interested in one of those positions, and underwent an intense vetting process to qualify for the unlimited term position.
To have achieved such an honor is something Ryan, who is originally from Pittsburg, couldn't have imagined as a student.
"I never thought I'd be doing this," he said. "When you start out in the world, you don't know how much your education will help your job. But PSU really gave me good preparation - a lot of the things I learned set the tone for what I'm doing now.
"PSU is well known for their Construction Management program. My technical skills that have served me very well over the years are based on my PSU education. The one area that I took for granted was interpersonal skills. Having the ability to communicate with and speak in front of people are important in every job - those were some of the most important classes I took."