For Service September, DPR challenges each of its local business units to take on at least one construction volunteer project. This year, every office used its construction skills to help local organizations improve facilities, and in turn help them work toward achieving their missions each and every day. In September, DPR renovated and repaired 15 community centers, seven single family residences and shared building and construction knowledge with youth during four workshops.

A few examples of projects completed by DPR around the country include:

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Photo courtesy of Megan Valles

Boys & Girls Club Placer County (Sacramento)
In Sacramento, DPR teams “refreshed” the Boys & Girls Club of Placer County facility that serves over 300 local youth. The project involved sprucing up several bungalows the Club uses for its after-school programs at the Rock Creek Elementary School campus. DPR volunteers completed needed maintenance at the school, including prepping and painting exterior walls, doors and handrails.

The Club’s development director, Topher Matson, said the service project and DPR’s ongoing relationship with the Club make a significant impact.

“The Rock Creek School Site isn’t just a building; it’s the backdrop where youth development takes place,” he said. “With DPR’s help, club members see a partner in the community that places value on the club they love.”

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Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

Bay Area Tackles Four Projects in One Day
In the Bay Area, DPR impacted an estimated 3,400 children, families and seniors in local Bay Area communities through its Service September projects at The Boys & Girls Club (South San Francisco), East Oakland Boxing Association, Casa Maria Recovery Home (San Mateo), and Antioch Baptist Church Senior Apartments (San Jose).

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Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

DPR volunteers completed repair projects at these four different facilities in a single day. Work involved an array of services including demolition, painting, pouring concrete and footings; building decks and ADA ramps, installing T-Bar ceilings, fencing, landscaping, lighting and handrails; building benches, planter boxes and a shed. 

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Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

Center for Children & Young Adults (Atlanta)
In Atlanta, DPR reached out to one of its key community partners, the Center for Children & Young Adults (CCYA), to perform a day of service at its Marietta, Georgia facility which houses up to 40 local youth ages 12 to 21.  Volunteers from all peer groups in the region turned out for the service day. In the morning, they performed various needed improvement projects, including repainting three bathrooms in the main building, putting together five fire pit/planter beds for the outdoor space and constructing a storage shed.

“Places like the planter boxes and fire pit areas help us create home-like places for our kids to gather and create memories of their own to carry with them when they leave us.  Thank you so much for having DPR help us,” said Maureen Lok, chair of CCYA’s board of directors.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Jones
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Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

Deepti Bhadkamkar has always been driven by the impact of what she does. When she looks at a building, she sees more than a structure; she sees a place that will impact people with countless ripple effects. She sees stem cell labs that will significantly impact the way we understand and treat disorders and diseases; she sees world-class hospitals that will save children’s lives.

Most of all, she sees potential. A project manager specializing in complex MEP systems across core markets, Bhadkamkar’s passion is figuring out ways to make these labs, data centers and hospitals smarter and more efficient for the people who will eventually occupy them. 

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Deepti Bhadkamkar is a project manager specializing in complex MEP systems across core markets. Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

Since she joined DPR in 2005 as an intern, she has been continuously learning and honing her skills, as MEP systems and the ways to manage them are ever-changing. Bhadkamkar has worked on several large-scale projects throughout her career, including:

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Bhadkamkar’s passion is figuring out ways to make these labs, data centers and hospitals smarter and more efficient for the people who will eventually occupy them. Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

She is currently working on Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, where she is managing MEP systems for the entire hospital. The expansion project will more than double the size of the current facility, adding 521,000 sq. ft. and allowing the hospital to meet increased demand for pediatric and obstetric care as the Bay Area population grows.

Early in her career as a project engineer, Bhadkamkar struggled with people initially not taking her seriously. She made sure she always did her research ahead of time so she could speak with complete certainty about complex MEP systems to people who sometimes had double the experience that she did. Over time, as she built her technical expertise, this confidence came more naturally. She never hesitates to ask questions, rely on resources or step out of her comfort zone to learn something new in the field. 

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Bhadkamkar never hesitates to ask questions, rely on resources or step out of her comfort zone to learn something new in the field. Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

“Everyone has insecurities or biases, but whatever it is, just focus on what you love to do, and give your 100% full commitment to it,” she said. “Don’t get too bogged down with perceptions because ultimately, they are yours. I always treat myself as a leader and an engineer, and so does everyone else.”

The proudest moment of her career happened when a superintendent she has worked closely with on a few big projects pointed to her and told an engineer, “You have to be like her.

As a member of the Bay Area’s Project Engineer (PE) leadership group, as well as the MEP leadership group, Bhadkamkar helps mentor and develop curriculum that over 100 PEs in the Bay Area and over 50 MEP experts around the country can benefit from as they learn, develop and grow. 

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The proudest moment of Bhadkamkar’s career happened when a superintendent she has worked closely with on a few big projects pointed to her and told an engineer, “You have to be like her.” Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

“I personally wanted to share with them the experiences I had, and offer them the same insights that I have learned over time,” she said. “I want to teach them something that will have an impact on them, and I learn so many things from them as well. Working with our next generation of builders gives me such a great energy to keep going.”

Bhadkamkar is passionate about anything that makes a difference in somebody’s life–whether it is mentorship or building highly integrated smart buildings that enhance the human experience. It’s not just the structures that Bhadkamkar builds that create ripple effects of positive impacts on countless people over time–she does, too. 

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Working with the next generation of builders gives Bhadkamkar energy to keep going. Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano
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Photo courtesy of Brilliance Photography/Bob Hughes

When Lauren Snedeker was 22 years old, her manager pulled her aside and told her, “You’re wasting your life; you are meant to do so much more than what you are now. You need to build.”

After spending three years at Georgia Tech as a chemical engineering major, Snedeker realized that she hated the field in which she had planned to spend her whole career. A very social person, the solitary nature of research stifled her. Without strong career guidance, she quit school and fell into an assortment of temporary jobs, one of which was answering phones at a construction company in Atlanta. 

Sitting at the front desk, Snedeker–whose mind naturally craves challenges and problems to solve–began offering her help to the estimators and accountants in her office. With the encouragement of her colleagues, she earned her B.S. in construction management with a minor in business administration from Southern Polytechnic State University, and eventually returned to Georgia Tech for her Master’s in building construction and integrated facility management. She became a project engineer, and never looked back. 

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For Lauren Snedeker, construction management is the perfect confluence of her social and engineering skills. Photo courtesy of Brilliance Photography/Bob Hughes

Since she joined DPR in 2013, Snedeker has been a crucial contributor to growing DPR’s relationship with the University of Georgia (UGA). Now a project manager, Snedeker has worked on UGA’s Terry College of Business, UGA’s Indoor Athletic Facility and is currently managing UGA’s design-build improvements to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium, the tenth largest college football stadium in the country.

Snedeker embraces the challenges of renovating the stands, locker room, recruit club, plaza and concourse area of UGA’s beloved Bulldogs, all while over 94,000 curious fans flood the stadium for this season’s six home games. Since the project is scheduled for completion in summer 2018, the DPR team has been carefully planning how to demobilize the entire jobsite, which is centrally located near a student center, main dining hall and several dorms, for each game day when football season starts in early September.

“Seventeen years ago, if you had told me I would trade high heels for steel-toed boots and safety glasses, and that I would be a contractor who builds things, I would have told you that you were nuts–but I love and am very fulfilled by what I do,” she said. 

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Snedeker’s biggest rule on the jobsite is to never ask anyone to do something that she is not willing to do herself. Photo courtesy of Brilliance Photography/Bob Hughes

She proudly remembers the first day she saw the completed UGA Indoor Athletic Facility, the first project she led in a project manager role from start to finish. The DPR team kept the facilities active and usable by the student-athletes and coaching staff 24 hours a day. Their late nights mirrored the work ethic of the UGA coaches, who from their offices overlooking the practice field were able to gain a tremendous respect for all it took to build their new home.

The collaborative team environment is one of Snedeker’s favorite aspects of her job. She believes no person on a team can be a success without the success of their teammates.

“One of my biggest rules is that I would never ask anyone to do something I’m not willing to do myself. If the PE’s are sweeping floors, I am sweeping floors. Everyone is a team, and I am no better or worse than anyone who works next to me in the trailer,” she said.

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Snedeker has been a crucial contributor to growing DPR’s relationship with UGA, and is currently managing design-build improvements to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium. Photo courtesy of Brilliance Photography/Bob Hughes

Leading by example is a tenet that drives Snedeker in all that she does. As Atlanta’s intern champion and college recruiter for the UGA campus, she is passionate about mentoring the next generation of builders. Investing her time and expertise into a young person’s career in turn makes her invested in their success, and she still keeps in touch with interns that she worked with many years ago.

Snedeker believes that if she can make a difference in a young person’s life, the impact could create ripple effects for the rest of his or her life. When she was young and unsure about what she wanted to do with her career, she didn’t have a strong mentor to turn to–and she wants her interns to always know that they have her.

Fifteen years ago, she was right to realize that she was meant to build. But she has gone on to build so much more than buildings; she builds relationships, creates teams and develops people in the same way she approaches every project–she builds them to last.

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Most projects hold topping out ceremonies when the last beam is put into place atop a structure. However at Coda, Georgia Tech’s new high-powered computing center in midtown Atlanta, the project team held a “bottoming out” celebration marking the completion of mass excavation.

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Once complete, Coda will be a 750,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use complex near Atlanta’s Downtown Connector and Georgia Tech’s campus at Tech Square. The building, which will occupy a full city block, will feature a 630,000-sq.-ft., 21-floor Class “T” Office Tower, an 80,000-sq.-ft. high-performance computing (HPC) data center, 50,000-sq.-ft. office, retail and lobby space, and 330,000-sq.-ft. parking garage.

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Despite above average rainfall, lost days due to weather, and working in a downtown environment with no laydown space, the team is collaboratively managing and maintaining the overall project schedule.

The following numbers help illustrate the magnitude of this effort:

  • 87,043 work-hours with no lost time incidents
  • 160,000 cubic yards of soil and rock removed
  • 15,000 truckloads of soil hauled
  • 190 piles driven
  • Five levels of below-grade parking — enough space to hide a four-story office building below ground
  • Enough water pumped out of the site to fill a 3/4″ garden hose nearly reaching the moon and back
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DPR is working with the development team of Portman Holdings and NextTier HD on the project, which is slated for completion by the end of 2018.

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Andrea Weisheimer was born with an inherent desire to create, to build, to do. Growing up with a passion for painting and design, she thought she would pursue a career in art until she discovered the construction engineering management program at Oregon State University.

Now a project executive in DPR’s Austin office, Weisheimer uses her art background to guide and connect construction and design teams, embracing the challenge of taking a rendering or sketch and figuring out how to technically bring it to life. It is this diversity of skillset that brings fresh ideas to her jobsites.

“Art has always been a passion of mine, but after first trying industrial engineering, I decided I didn’t want to be behind a desk all day. I needed to find something that could combine business with engineering and technical skills,” said Weisheimer. 

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Andrea Weisheimer grew up interested in painting and design, and discovered her passion for construction management in college. Photo courtesy of Brandon Parscale

When a college advisor suggested construction management, she asked, “Do I look like I would work in construction?” but gave it a try and fell in love with it.

After graduating and starting her career as a concrete field engineer, she laid out specific goals for herself. She wanted to learn how to build a high rise (she would build the tallest building in the world, if she could) and become a project manager. With a focus on high rise construction, and a penchant for balancing the structural design complexities of tall buildings with creating cost efficiencies for her customers, Weisheimer became a project manager by the age of 27. She asked herself, what’s next?

DPR was next. Since joining DPR in 2015, Weisheimer has continued with her passion for building commercial high rises, including Third + Shoal, a 29-story, 345,000-sq.-ft. Class-AA corporate office space in downtown Austin. The project, which features 24,000-sq.-ft. floor plates and Austin’s first ‘smart and connected’ building system, is expected to be completed in 2018.  As construction booms in the Texas state capital, DPR continues to change the city’s skyline, including the ground-up construction of Colorado Tower, the J.W. Marriott, the Aloft/Element Hotel, University of Texas Replacement Office Building, and more.

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A project executive at DPR, Weisheimer focuses on the construction of high rise buildings. Photo courtesy of Brandon Parscale

“Just being a part of this industry makes me proud,” she said. “It makes me proud to see others succeed, and I love to see others get passionate about building.”

Weisheimer has been a crucial contributor to developing DPR Austin’s high school intern program, which gives high schoolers from ACE mentor programs with an interest in construction or engineering a chance to work at a jobsite for the summer, exposing them to the career opportunities available in the industry. She helped create curriculum for the interns’ initial tasks: writing daily journals, interviewing different roles on the jobsite, and operating in mock scenarios to get a sense of how to overcome typical challenges on a project.

She personally mentors a 17-year-old high schooler named Anais, who–just like her–loves art and even participates in art competitions. When people come into Weisheimer’s life, she figures it is for a reason and she sticks with them. She plans to mentor and guide Anais through her college education and beyond. 

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Weisheimer has a penchant for balancing the structural design complexities of tall buildings with creating cost efficiencies for her customers. Photo courtesy of Brandon Parscale

Weisheimer wants women to know that it is OK to let go of insecurities and follow your passions. Through her involvement with Girlstart and Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) Austin, organizations that focus on increasing interest and engagement in STEM fields, she wants to inspire young women to be confident, be bold and be brilliant.

“There aren’t a lot of women in this industry, and I can see the passion in Anais’ eyes,” she said. “I want to share my experiences with her, and I want to show her, ‘this is how we build!’ Construction is an option for women, too.”

Every day on the jobsite brings a new challenge for Weisheimer, whether it is figuring out how to construct a high rise double helix parking garage, install complex exterior skin systems, or integrate building system controls. When she goes home, she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, inspired with an idea for a sketch of a renovation project or a landscape design.

So she gets up in the pitch dark, and just like everything else in her life–she creates, she builds, she does. 

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Weisheimer wants to inspire young women to be confident, be bold and be brilliant. Photo courtesy of Brandon Parscale

More than 10,500 people across 140 jobsites celebrated National Construction Safety Week and participated in OSHA’s 2017 National Safety Stand-Down this year.

DPR has participated in the National Safety Stand-Down since its inception four years ago, with company-wide efforts to educate our teams about how everyone has a role in safety, to make sure that every employee returns home to their family each night. 

Safety Stand Down 2017

This year, we nearly doubled our number of participants. In 2015 we reached 6,670 participants across 79 DPR jobsites; in 2016 we increased that number to 9,444 participants across 130 jobsites. This year, the stand-down included 10,503 participants across 140 jobsites nationwide.

The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down is to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction:

  • PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
  • PROVIDE the right equipment
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
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As one of the safest contractors in the nation, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Participation in the annual Safety Stand-Down is a way for us to strengthen our culture of safety. Thank you to all who make safety a value at DPR every day!

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To avoid traffic disruptions, the team began the concrete pour at 4 a.m. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

On a Saturday morning this spring, Jon Shores and about 70 members of the DPR team rose much earlier than the sun and headed to a leading enterprise software company’s campus in Pleasanton, California. They positioned 15 light towers around the site to illuminate what would become DPR’s largest ever self-performed concrete pour. 

The 410,000-sq.-ft. commercial office space will become the company’s corporate headquarters when it is completed in 2019, and is a full cast-in-place concrete structure, unique in an area where most buildings are made of structural steel. The cast-in-place concrete structure will help foster a look and feel of structural, exposed concrete from a design perspective and reduce vibrations in the building for user comfort. To support the 3-foot thick concrete core walls that rise from the mat foundation all the way up seven stories to the roof, the team needed to build a thick mat foundation, as unique as the building it will hold up. 

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Approximately 70 DPR team members worked closely together to coordinate the pour of 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, using 1.2 million pounds of rebar. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

In 11 hours, DPR coordinated the pour of 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, reinforced with 1.2 million pounds of rebar. The foundation is notably 6 feet 6 inches thick in its center, and about 5 feet thick around the perimeter. Although the project is a large structure, the construction site itself is relatively small, bordered by a highway, a mall and a BART station.

The DPR team set up its own traffic control system to manage the nearby mall traffic and make sure the commercial hub and its shoppers were not affected by the 480 truckloads of concrete coming in and out of the site all day. The pour was serviced by four on-site concrete pumps and four concrete plants based in Pleasanton, Hayward, Oakland and Martinez. Because of the sheer volume of concrete needed for the foundation, the team was pouring as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour. By the end of the day, the team had poured enough concrete to fill one and a half Olympic-size swimming pools, or 3.7 million 2-liter bottles of soda. 

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The team poured as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

“We were able to pull this off because of the strength of the team we have on site, including our highly skilled craftspeople and their dedication to quality and safety,” said Shores. “Self-performing structural concrete allows us to set the tone and pace for the job and ultimately allows us to deliver a quality product to our customer.”

11 hours after that dark, early morning, the team celebrated the major milestone, as the successful completion of the mat foundation cleared the way to begin vertical construction on the core walls. Eventually 600 lineal feet of walls will rise above the mat, as the team continues to build great things–from the ground up. 

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11 hours later, the team celebrated completing the milestone, and will continue to build great things–from the ground up. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Traffic Barricades Clutter Keller Parkway As Crews Repair The Roadway

keller parkway traffic barricadeKeller Parkway has been long overdue for road repair and as unwelcome as the traffic delays are, commuters are extremely excited to have the roads repaired before the winter. Heavy Texas rains have plastered the main roadway, and that combined with the massive amount of local traffic, Keller Parkway has taken a beating over the years. This has been on the back burner for the past few years until the City of Keller received private donations from multiple businesses owners in an attempt to expedite the road work. Now traffic barriers can be seen along the roadway between North Main Street and North Pearson Lane. As you pass through Keller heading Eastbound on Southlake you will notice that the road work is almost complete. When heading west bound on Keller Parkway towards Golden Triangle Boulevard you will see the project is at a standstill. This is because there was a city pipeline running under the intersection at Cindy St and Keller Parkway that was damaged and city officials are scrambling to get crews on the scene to repair. The project is expected to be finished by November of 2017. With holiday travel kicking off in November for Thanksgiving, city officials would prefer to have the roadway repaired for travel before holiday travelers hit the road for the holiday.

Possible Events Post Road Repair

If Keller Parkway is repaired in time for the low rider show, could it become the drag strip for collectors to show off their cars? Could the 10k race take place along the newly paved stretch of road? Could the Very Merry Light Parade take place on Keller Parkway this year?

There are a lot of groups and organizations that will benefit from the road repair. The city may also increase it’s use of the newly repaired road if officials can plan beyond 2017 for Keller city events. You can visit https://www.cityofkeller.com/visit-play/city-calendar for event dates and details.

Thanks To The 4 Local Businesses That Sponsored The Keller Parkway Project

Keller Tavern

Callahan Motor Company

Online Texas Homes

Performance Chiropractic

 

 

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT VOLUNTEERS IN AUSTIN TEXAS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 

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It is pure dedication that drove Rena Crittendon to return to the home of an 88-year-old woman named Elnora after an all-female DPR team completed a series of home renovations as part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco’s SHEBUILDS day. It is Crittendon’s pride in her work, as part Bay Area community initiatives champion, part field office coordinator (FOC), that challenged her to go back and stucco Elnora’s house herself, furthering what she learned from her teammates that day.

When women unite, they can accomplish anything.

In launching the SHEBUILDS day this year, Rebuilding Together San Francisco not only highlighted the level of need among women in the community, but also showcased the ability of women in construction and design industries to assist and empower other women in their own backyard. And the need is real; Rebuilding Together points to statistics showing that more than one in seven women and one in five children live in poverty across the U.S. In 2015, 66% of the homes repaired by Rebuilding Together San Francisco were headed by a woman.

Arundhati Ghosh, a BIM project engineer with DPR, got the ball rolling on the SHEBUILDS project after hearing about the opportunity from a colleague. She had participated on Rebuilding Together projects in the past, but Ghosh said the prospect of an all-female team was intriguing. “The group I currently work with is all men,” she said. “It was interesting to me to see how it would be if it was an all-women’s group with women taking the lead instead of men.”

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The all-female DPR team completed a series of home renovations for an 88-year-old woman named Elnora. Photo courtesy of J. Rosenfeld

Ghosh reached out to Crittendon, and a team of nearly 40 of DPR’s female employees, along with 10 women from other companies, joined together to tackle the much-needed home improvement project.

“There were holes in the ceiling and wall in the back bedroom behind the quilting room the woman uses, and a 10-ft.-long strip that was open to the elements. This was not going to be just a patch job,” Crittendon noted. Electrical and plumbing fixes were also needed. “We took several walk-throughs with an all-female team of experts, including a carpenter superintendent, structural engineer and others, and decided we needed more than one day to do the job.”

Finding the skilled trade workers to make up the all-female team seemed daunting, but the team ultimately secured several electricians, two skilled workers from DPR’s self-perform demolition crew, a carpenter superintendent (Vic Julian, DPR’s first female superintendent), a plumber (the granddaughter of the homeowner), and many others. When planning the build day with the team, some people questioned, “can we pull this off? Can we do this with only women?” Crittendon’s answer was, “hell yes!” 

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The DPR team was made up of different experts, including a carpenter superintendent, structural engineer and others. Photo courtesy of A. Fortune

In addition to the 430 total hours of planning and building invested in the project, the DPR-led, all-female team brought a strong sense of collaboration, an innate trust in their teammates, and support for fellow team members’ input and ideas. “The camaraderie was amazing,” Ghosh said. “It was really high energy all day, and it was extremely collaborative.”

Additional comments from the women who participated and were surveyed at project completion included one who said, “I gained invaluable hands-on experience with construction. I love that our community initiative activities help our employees grow their skillsets as builders.” Another commented that the personal reward was “some really great teamwork and knowing we really improved the quality of life of the person we helped.”

It is the “awesomeness” that comes out of each event that grows Crittendon’s passion for helping others even more. “The women who helped us build over the course of the two days are smart, strong and technical. They inspire me every day, and they taught me so much about building. I feel so much more confident now in my own abilities because of them,” she said.

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During the first half of 2017, Crittendon (pictured) has organized community events in the Bay Area that impacted 600 under-resourced youth who learned about construction skills and careers through education modules, mentoring and career fairs; 25 staff members at local nonprofits who participated in professional development with DPR’s training staff; and one individual—Elnora—who was impacted through DPR’s expertise in facility construction and renovation. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Similar to how a project team builds the right relationships with the right partners (architects, owners, subcontractors) at the beginning of a job, Crittendon in her community role strives to form the right partnerships with the right organizations so DPR’s employees can serve them in the best ways they know how: facility construction, career/educational opportunities and operational support. 

For Crittendon, it’s all about the long-term impact, the people who come out to volunteer, and the people they are serving. It’s the women she works with, who build great things and inspire her every day. It’s showing her kids that she can be a full-time working mom, handling two different roles at DPR while still managing to coach her daughter’s travel softball team. She is more than just passionate about all she does–she is proud.

So are we. 

Richmond, Virginia teenagers had the opportunity to learn about construction planning and safety and then test their leadership skills guiding younger children through a hands-on build project during DPR’s three-day School of Construction for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond this May.

DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office tailored their second annual School of Construction event in a way designed to better engage teen members of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. Around 25 members from the Northside and Southside clubs, including five older teens, participated. They joined together with 16 DPR employees to plan and run an event that shared DPR’s unique technical skillsets with the community while educating local youth.

“The goal was really expanding our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and better engaging their teen population,” said Diane Rossini, community outreach coordinator for DPR’s Richmond office. “All of the teens were very excited to take ownership of the build. It was great to see the smiles on their faces when they succeeded in working through a problem.”

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Teens were introduced to construction planning and BIM tools used in real-world scenarios including P6 scheduling, 3-D and 4-D modeling. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

The School of Construction event kicked off with a planning day with the teen leaders. Teens partnered with DPR volunteers and discussed how they would be leading the hands-on building groups. DPR employees had the chance to share their various career paths and what DPR stands for as a company. The teens were also introduced to construction planning and Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools used in real-world scenarios including P6 scheduling, 3-D and 4-D modeling.

A follow-up pre-build and safety day with the teen leaders offered the teens an opportunity to work side-by-side with DPR volunteers, complete with a PPE safety gear demo and pre-task plan. The teens worked through the building process and gained the confidence they needed to lead the younger club members on build day.

During the actual School of Construction Day at DPR’s Richmond office, the youth were exposed to virtual and augmented reality tools used in construction and offered a chance to interact with a virtual construction site. Teen leaders guided groups of younger students to build five prefabricated planter boxes. Those boxes will be donated to Renew Richmond’s community garden education program at G.H. Reid Elementary School and installed by DPR volunteers in June.

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Teen leaders guided groups of younger students to build prefabricated planter boxes, which were donated to Renew Richmond’s community garden education program. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

Darricka Carter, director of corporate & foundation relations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, commented, “DPR’s School of Construction provided our club members a chance to learn new skills, be exposed to new career opportunities and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. The skillsets they gained will help them set goals for their future and develop personally and professionally.”

Feedback from the teens themselves showed DPR succeeded in that goal–one that challenged them well beyond the typical role as student to take on a leadership role as a teacher instead.

“It was challenging to teach kids to want more,” said Tyreicq, one of the teen leaders. “I told them that if you want something you’ve never had in your life, you will have to do something you’ve never done.”

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The DPR School of Construction gave Boys & Girls Club members a chance to learn new skills, be exposed to new career opportunities and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

Teen leader Amira, a graduating senior who plans to major in mechanical engineering in college, had the chance to partner directly with DPR team members from engineering backgrounds who shared their experience with her. “It was cool to hear the perspectives of other individuals with similar interests and educational backgrounds,” she said.

David LeFebvre, director of development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond added, “The School of Construction was a beautiful blend of service-learning, DPR employees’ expertise and team-building. It was such a well-designed program that allowed our kids to learn about what different kinds of jobs are out there, how they can contribute to their community, and how important it is to work as a team. This kind of activity is exactly what BGCMR is looking for to get our kids ready for life.” 

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The planter boxes at G.H. Reid Elementary School were installed by DPR volunteers in June and will serve Renew Richmond’s community garden education program for years to come. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini