Organization hopes to build on others’ success

John Hitch

Rock and roll cannot build a city, as claimed by Jefferson Starship. It can, however, attract people that do, as evidenced last week in Cleveland, which hosted the Mechanical Contractors Association of America Student Chapter Summit.

Kent State’s chapter, conceived concurrently with the construction management major in spring, was the newest student group at the two-day event, which, according to the association, “promotes) better relations between all facets of the industry.” That industry includes contractors who install heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

The student organization, the 39th collegiate chapter to partner with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, sent nine representatives north to the conference, giving them a chance to learn from more established programs, said chapter adviser Joe Karpinski.

Chapter President Neal Konesky, senior construction management major, said he gleaned many great ideas from the other schools, and he looks forward to working on community service projects and fundraising events such as a golf tournament.

The first day began with a presentation on Earth-friendly technology at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at the Key Center. After a tour of the local Mechanical Contractors Association training center, the attendees from across North America endured a rainy walk up East 9th Street before reaching their destination — the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum — where a banquet and private tour of the city landmark awaited them.

Konesky, who had never visited the hall before, said he marveled at how architect I. M. Pei “used every bit of the building” to house all the iconic music memorabilia.

The convention concluded with the different chapters dispersing into small groups to design a hypothetical Department of Homeland Security building for Cleveland. Mike Clark, sophomore construction management major, earned $100 for placing first. Konesky and his interstate teammates finished in second place, earning each team member $50.

Along with winning money and feasting on filet mignon, Konesky also spent his time working toward future employment.

“I made good friends and good connections for internships from California to Washington,” he said.

Before he leaves Kent State, though, Konesky plans to expand the foundling organization. In four years, the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s chapter went from a handful of members to more than 180. In the next two years, Konesky hopes to quadruple his group’s ranks, which are now at 19.

Civic volunteerism stands out as the focal point for Konesky and company. The group’s ambitious goals for the year include adopting a highway, working with Habitat for Humanity and aiding reconstruction efforts in Biloxi.

“Any organization can start up from nothing and become a staple of the community,” he said, adding that anyone can join the group.

Konesky said the chapter’s first meeting will be at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Van Deusen Hall Room 105B.

Karpinski, architect of the major, said he knew Ohio needed more project leaders to meet industry demand, and that opportunity for education was lacking — only Bowling Green has a similar program.

“You can’t out-source construction jobs,” he said of the ever-present need for people in the industry.

Junior Kevin Miazga, construction management major, agreed.

“There’s always going to be construction,” he said.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Cleveland discovered Karpinski’s plan to bring the major to Kent State and wasted no time in reaching out to him.

Thomas Wanner, executive director of Cleveland’s association, had been searching for a student organization to serve as a breeding ground for future project managers in region. Wanner was eager to “get them in the pipeline.”

The association has worked closely with the chapter since its inception, including sponsoring them at the summit, paying for all the group’s food and lodging expenses.

Wanner said his group will also fund the chapter’s next conference in San Diego next March.

Contact College of Technology reporter John Hitch at [email protected].