With four major military installations, San Antonio has earned the nickname “Military City USA.” There is also a strong cybersecurity presence in the city—in fact, it has the highest concentration of cyber and intelligence workers outside the D.C. area. The Skanska-built, 24,800 square-foot Bowden Center at St. Philip’s College (SPC) will help grow this industry as it will house a top-notch cybersecurity program to help students pursue military careers in this field.
Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, is home to more than 2,100 Veterans, the Veterans Memorial Monument at Olde City Park and the Skanska-built Veterans Resource Center at Collin College. This Center connects students with resources designed to ensure a smooth transition into college and foster academic success.
We sat down with two of our Veterans who are building what matters for the Texas military community. Justin Wallace, project engineer, is currently working on our Bowden Center project, and Dan Nuehring, senior environmental, health and safety (EHS) manager, worked on our Veterans Resource Center project.
Can you tell us about your decision to join the military and the construction industry?
Justin: I was introduced to construction at an early age from my father who worked in plumbing and HVAC. I would dig ditches, connect PVC pipes and crawl around in attics to set up HVAC systems. But, it was my grandfather, a Marine, who inspired me to challenge myself and join the Marine Corps. During my first two years in the Marine Corps, I was with an engineer unit in Okinawa, Japan. We repaired equipment, planned missions and held training operations where we would set up small command bases. All of those experiences influenced my decision to join the construction industry once I completed my service. Before making that decision, I did a lot of research into different types of careers and the construction industry was the perfect fit. I have always enjoyed putting work into something and seeing the finished product come to life.
Dan: I joined the Marine Corps two weeks after September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks on America that day was my deciding factor. I served eight years in the Marine Corps with my first four years as a Landing Support Marine assisting in beach operations and helicopter external lifts. My second four years, I served as a Marine Firefighter/EMT assisting in Aircraft Fire Operations. After I left the Marines, I received my Master’s Degree in Occupational Safety and Health. I wanted the same fast pace environment as the military, so I focused on the construction industry where I’ve been working for the past seven years.
Would you recommend the construction industry for people in the military to consider? If yes, why?
Justin: Yes, absolutely. The construction industry is a great fit for individuals in the military because of all the transferrable skills the military teaches you. Discipline, leadership and a spirit of adaptability are just a few of the many skills you learn, and they all directly apply to the construction industry.
Dan: I will always recommend the construction industry to my fellow military Veterans, because both the military and construction require comradery and attention to detail. On the general contractor’s side, you have to have a sense of leadership in order to lead other trades to success.
What advice do you have for young people joining the construction industry?
Justin: I would advise young people joining the construction industry to do three things. The first is to study all of the drawings and read as much as possible into the specifications and contracts. The second is to show up on time, work hard and always keep a team mentality. Finally, ask plenty of questions to those around you. This allows you to better understand how to build and can prevent you from making unnecessary mistakes that others have already learned from.
Dan: Life is full of technology these days, and whether you’ve embraced it or enjoy manual labor, the construction industry has both. Don’t ever think that there is nothing out there for you, because construction will always be around and there will always be a need for new talent.
How will Collin College’s Veterans Resource Center positively impact the local military community in Wylie?
Dan: One of the toughest transitions in life for a military Veteran is when they decide to either retire or leave after their contractual date. Before they exit the military, one of the questions that runs through their head is, “Do I want to go back to school and get my degree?” Having a Resource Center for Veterans gives them the opportunity to get the help they need pursuing higher education. A lot of the questions that Veterans have are only unique to them, which is why they need that network of other Veterans and counselors to help guide them in the right direction.
How will SPC’s cybersecurity program help train students for military intelligence jobs in Texas and across the country?
Justin: SPC’s cybersecurity program can help train students for military intelligence jobs by teaching them how to monitor networks, gather data and respond to cyber-attacks. In addition, their program prepares students for certifications that can help them in a career in cybersecurity outside of the military.
As a Veteran, how does it feel to be working on this project?
Justin: As a Veteran, it’s great to be working on the Bowden Center. SPC provides education to Veterans, active duty military and dependents. This education helps build upon the careers of those still active in the military and helps those transitioning out of the military to begin a new career.
Dan: A lot of commercials you see today have the catch phrase, “Built in America.” Well, I can honestly say that not only is the Veterans Resource Center project built in America, but it is built for Veterans, by Veterans!