Introducing the Next Generation to Construction & STEM

Community stewardship is at the core of our organization. As a commercial real estate developer, designer and design-builder, connecting with our communities and supporting budding project managers, carpenters, engineers and more just makes sense.

Building community for a better tomorrow extends from our job sites to all of the people in our communities.

Future Builders

Introducing Youth to Careers in Construction

Future Builders is a strategic initiative to introduce youth to careers in the construction industry. The vision is to cultivate a pipeline of qualified, diverse workers to sustain and advance the construction industry. It combines impactful grantmaking from the Foundation with a Task Force of our own associates. The Task Force plans and executes activities that showcase the range of opportunities in the industry and the various skills that might be required.

Launched in 2017, the Future Builders has resulted in grants totaling over $1.4 million and activities including project-in-a-box plans, job site tours and hands-on volunteer events with middle and high school youth.

Future Builders - Giving

Educating Youth on STEM Careers & Concepts

Why STEM? The better question is “Why not STEM?” Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are crucial to many modern jobs, including many in the commercial real estate and construction industry. From our structural engineering team to the project management associates with degrees in construction engineering to the technology and math underpinning our operations, STEM expertise is critical to our work now and will be for tomorrow’s leaders as well.

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Thoughts from Team Opus

The expertise of our associates is the crux of these dual focuses on construction and STEM. What better way to learn more than to hear from them?

My advice to a student interested in a STEM career: If you enjoy math and physics, then this could be the right career for you! I liked Legos as a kid; it fostered my understanding of how to make what I imagined. This led me into doing something with the same goal as a career.

Doug Woolf
Director of Engineering
Masters of Civil Engineering (University of Minnesota)

Talk to as many people as you can in the field you are interested. They can give you insights and advice that are invaluable and can change the direction of your career. If you don’t know anyone personally in these fields start talking to teachers, parents, friends’ parents, etc. until you find people in the field you are interested in and can sit down and talk with them. Keep your options open; there are many different paths to reach the same destination.

Justin Bowling
Associate Superintendent
Bachelor of Science in Construction Management Technology &
Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Innovation (Purdue University)

I have family members who work in construction. One of my grandpas was a laborer, and the other was an architect. Plus two of my uncles are laborers, and my parents flipped several houses throughout my childhood. So I grew up around construction and always found it fascinating how much a house can be improved upon. I also enjoyed my math and science classes above the others in high school, which lead me to take the Advanced Competitive Science class which combined my two favored subjects into one. I was encouraged by my teachers and my parents that engineering would be a good route for me.

Kelsie Lanz
Associate Project Manager
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (Marquette University)

I did not choose construction; it chose me at an early age watching my Dad and Grandpa take a pile of wood and build something with it. As for advice I may say to high school students take a long slow look around. Just about everything you see involves construction in one form or another from the very first idea to the final piece of trim. It truly is a great career with many rewards, including the people you meet along the way.

Scott Irey
Field Support Supervisor

When I was younger, I was interested in math, science and architecture and was lucky enough to discover a field that allowed me to pursue all three. Take advantage of the many opportunities for exposure to the field that are available to students today. Join a Lego league or a robotics team. Take a hands-on shop or trades class. If these aren’t available in your school district, check community education or a science museum.

Beth Duyvejonck
Regional Vice President of Construction
Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering (Iowa State University)

Growing up, I enjoyed sketching out floor plans for houses and building structures with Legos and Lincoln Logs. That initial interest in architecture led me to the construction management field. For youth interested in these careers, I would recommend getting involved in extracurricular clubs or activities that will give you exposure to real-world experiences and professionals in the STEM field you are interested in. In college, professional organizations such as Construction Club, ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) and Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity proved to be very valuable in helping me confirm my career choice and make contacts in the industry.

George Parrino
Senior Project Manager
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering & Construction Management Certificate
(University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Have a question about a career in construction or a STEM field? Contact us, and we’ll answer what we can!

Get Active

Our Future Builders Task Force has created a great project you can do at home. Click the file icon to download and share with your friends and family.

We’d love to see what you create. Share images with us on social media using #OpusFutureBuilders!

Construction-Jobs-Match-Game.pdf

Our Work in Action

Take a peek at some of our Future Builders and STEM educational activities and events.

  • In 2019, Beth Duyvejonck, Regional Vice President of Construction, delivered the Greenlee Leadership Lecture to Iowa State University’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. Beth is an alum of Iowa State University. From her commitment to sharing her knowledge to her leadership and work ethic, we’re fortunate to have Beth as part of Team Opus!

  • Job site tours are a great way to learn about the inner workings of construction. Students who participated in Denver Kids programs toured The Glenn at the Jones District to see the luxury multifamily project come together

  • Associates in St. Louis and an Opus Foundation grant initiated the Jackie-Joyner Kersee Foundation’s STEM program. Associates planned many hands-on modules to teach the students various design-build concepts.

  • Project Manager Tayler Matzke talks to middle school students participating in a Construction Careers Foundation summer program. Tayler guided the students through our How a Project is Built photo matching game.

  • Since 2017, our engineering and construction associates have introduced high schoolers participating in the Minnesota Trades Academy to steel framing construction, which is common in commercial buildings. The concept and plans were created by our team members.

  • Since 2017, our engineering and construction associates have introduced high schoolers participating in the Minnesota Trades Academy to steel framing construction, which is common in commercial buildings. The concept and plans were created by our team members.

  • Alison Froisland, Human Resources Business Partner, talks to middle school students about our company and some of the opportunities in construction.

  • Beth Duyvejonck, Regional Vice President of Construction, volunteered at the University of St. Thomas' Science, Technology & Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) program. STEPS introduces STEM opportunities at no charge to 6th to 8th grade girls. Beth gave a short talk about her own experience in engineering and construction and participated in a challenge. The girls tapped Beth's knowledge base as they planned, designed and built boats to test buoyancy. STEPS also received an Opus Foundation grant.

Opus Foundation Grants

The Opus Foundation has supported nonprofits in our communities in support of Future Builders and STEM education. Click the nonprofit’s name to see their grant history.

Future Builders

Building Futures (St. Louis)
Construction Careers Foundation (Minneapolis)
Emily Griffith Foundation (Denver)

STEM

Arizonans for Children
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City
Camp Fire Minnesota
Child Crisis Arizona (Phoenix)
Christopher House (Chicago)
Clayton Education Foundation (St. Louis)
East Side Neighborhood Service Inc. (Minneapolis)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation (St. Louis)
Lattof YMCA (Chicago)
Operation Breakthrough, Inc. (Kansas City)
St. Catherine of Siena School (Denver)
Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Phoenix)
YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities