BOONE, N.C. — This summer, Jake Haire, a building sciences–construction management major from Woodleaf, will build on his Appalachian State University degree concentration by gaining real-world experience in the field of construction management and estimation.
The Appalachian senior will work alongside the construction industry professionals of KMI International (KMI) — a global project management and construction consulting firm based in Orlando.
Haire is among more than 7,500 Appalachian students each year who earn academic credit for an internship, practicum, clinical experience or student teaching. Such opportunities allow students to demonstrate their skills in real-world settings, expand their competencies and network among industry professionals, and are often the first step toward landing a first job after graduation or getting accepted into graduate school, according to Appalachian’s Career Development Center.
Haire said he was attracted to KMI and its internship opportunity due to the company’s “willingness to give back to the community.” Specifically, he cited the KMI Cares program that supports the Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando and Osceola County, as well as the company’s participation in the RAMPAGE program — a program of the Center for Independent Living In Central Florida Inc.
Through the RAMPAGE program, KMI has helped modify the homes of people with disabilities by building handicapped-accessible ramps, allowing these individuals to access their communities with greater independence.
He said he also finds appealing KMI’s “vast portfolio of construction projects in various countries across the globe,” and that the internship opportunity will help him in both his academic and professional career. “I do want to travel and see the world but with a purpose, as opposed to just being a traveling tourist,” he said.
A change of plans
“I have never been afraid to work, or get my hands dirty,” said Haire, who grew up in a rural town he describes as being comprised of “mainly blue-collar workers.”
Haire didn’t plan to attend college, he shared; instead, he considered becoming a welder. “But my mother pushed me towards extending my academic career and assured me that I could be successful in college if I applied myself,” he said, “so I found a degree where I thought I could have the ability to do both.”
The most beneficial experience Haire has had in his major, he said, is getting to know professors in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment (STBE).
“There are so many different professors who not only care about my academic success but also care about me as a person … (and) who treat me more as a colleague rather than a pupil,” he said. “They are always there to offer assistance, and are willing to work with me in any way possible.”
Along with their personable nature, Haire said his STBE professors are skilled in their respective fields and regularly offer their personal experiences — both good and bad — on past projects, helping him better understand class lessons.
“This university and department do a wonderful job in offering students great opportunities to expand their knowledge by organizing projects and programs designed to give a student more than just a classroom lecture,” he said.
Additionally, he said his experience in the university’s IDEXlab (Integrative Design Experience Laboratory) — in which students plan, design, build and commission real projects for real clients — has given him “insight on how a real team works on construction projects,” as well as industry experience before he enters the professional world.
Beyond the classroom
Haire was part of a study abroad experience in summer 2018, in which he traveled to Peru with other students under the leadership of Dr. Jeremy Ferrell, assistant professor in the STBE department.
“We improved international relations with the public university Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC) by donating a solar panel designed to support a 1-watt LED lightbulb and two USB phone charging ports,” he said of the sustainability-focused trip.
The study abroad group also donated and installed a second solar panel in the rural community of Pucarumi, Peru, “which is not on the Peruvian energy grid and does not have access to electricity,” he said.
Additionally, Haire has been a member of the university’s Beta Nu Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta since transferring to Appalachian from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. During his involvement with the Greek organization, he has held several leadership roles — acting as recruitment chair, overseeing new member education and heading the organization’s Judicial Board.
“These positions have taught me how to correspond with people better and how to delegate tasks effectively and efficiently,” he said. “Along with holding these positions, I have also met some of my closest friends in life, which have taught me more about myself than I ever imagined.”
After graduating, Haire plans to attend graduate school for building science and then seek military construction contracting or overseas construction opportunities. He said he wants to focus on either project management or project estimating.
“Appalachian is a wonderful university that has connected me to many people,” Haire said. “It doesn’t matter what background you come from, you can always find someone to connect with, and there are always events that anyone can go to and groups that anyone can join.
“The culture (at Appalachian) is a melting pot of many different cultures that work in harmony to create a very positive atmosphere for all.”
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About KMI International
KMI International is experienced in new construction and renovation projects, with a portfolio that includes commercial development, government construction projects, aviation and marine infrastructure, and construction projects specific to the hospitality industry. The firm offers a wide range of construction consulting services to its clients, including cost estimating, property condition assessments, scheduling, project management, troubled project turnaround, and support for dispute resolution and litigation. Learn more at https://www.kmiintl.com.
About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology. Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology. Learn more at https://stbe.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.