The weather is frigid, the terrain muddy, and the work demanding, but Nate Stahl and Bart Arnett, graduates of Pittsburg State University and superintendents for Crossland Construction, couldn’t be happier.
Standing on top of a frosty mountain of dirt the size of a football field, the construction superintendents are a good example of the kind of success that can come from an education at PSU. Arnett, (BGS ’99) is the main project superintendent for the North Middle School expansion of the Joplin (Mo.) School District, and Stahl, (BST ’02), is a superintendent on the project overseeing concrete work. The $20 million project, which will result in a new auditorium, gymnasium, and classrooms for the school, is one in a series of big projects for Arnett, who recently finished the Crimson Villa Apartments in Pittsburg, the Freeman Women’s Center in Joplin, and PSU’s Jungletron.
“You learn that you can only earn so much with your hands,” said Arnett, who, like Stahl, decided to go back to school to pursue his degree after working in construction several years. “With your mind, the possibilities are endless. There were so many times when I looked in the paper and saw ‘bachelor’s degree required.’ The thing about working without a degree is that it’s hard to set goals for yourself, but college creates opportunities.”
Proudly referring to themselves as “concrete guys,” the demands of their jobs are far-reaching. Both oversee a crew of as many as 40 employees a day, and need to know a lot about all aspects of building, including equipment, materials, scheduling, and safety. Stahl says the projects he worked on as a PSU student in the College of Technology were invaluable in preparing him for the real-life work ahead.
“Everything we do here, we got a start at in college,” Stahl said. “The materials and methods courses, surveying, the senior project (his class poured concrete for a Boy Scouts of America shelter). Those things add to your abilities, but one of the real advantages is knowing how to find the information you don’t know, and college teaches you that.”
Arnett said the carryover between what he learned at school and does each day at work surprised him.
“You never realize what school is really teaching you until you get out and do it,” he said. “In construction, you never stop learning. We have a passion for it.”
The two friends, both of whom live in the Pittsburg area with their families, also have a passion for their school and community.
“Pittsburg is a great community and PSU is a direct reflection of that,” Arnett said. “It’s cool to see that people care about their university. To step back as a graduate and see how much pride people take, it makes me appreciate PSU even more.”
For more information on the College of Technology programs, go to http://www.pittstate.edu/academics/technology/.