Close search

BW engineering students put classroom theory into real-world practice

A partnership with a dynamic, female-led construction company allowed Baldwin Wallace engineering students to use a Metroparks construction project as a learning lab.

BW engineering students check plans

It's one thing to master engineering concepts in the classroom. It's quite another to test them in real life.

"It is easy for students to get wrapped up in the theory side of engineering," notes Baldwin Wallace University engineering major Caely Ressler '25.

This spring, Ressler and her classmates in Dr. Jennifer Kadlowec's global engineering class used lab time to work on a construction project taking shape around Wallace Lake in the Cleveland Metroparks' Mill Stream Run Reservation.

"Students in this course were learning about civil engineering locally, regionally and in the developing world. This project, in our own backyard, presented a perfect opportunity to see how the job site works," explained Kadlowec, who chairs BW's engineering department.

Construction Academy 

The BW engineering class and their mentors on the worksite at Wallace Lake

The BW engineering class and their mentors on the worksite at Wallace Lake

The Brook Park-based Regency Construction Services,Inc. allowed BW students to get a taste of the work — from design to hard hat construction — as the company worked on a new park concession stand, restroom building and plaza.

Regency has completed hundreds of projects for education, library, park, healthcare, civic and commercial clients across the state of Ohio since it was founded in 1994 by Tari Rivera. The company’s executive management also includes Janelle Hinkle, vice president of construction operations, and Scott Wagner ’97, vice president of corporate operations and a BW alumnus.

A hallmark of the firm's community involvement is its Construction Academy, which was developed as an "opportunity to use our projects to help connect students to careers in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries." After serving more than 1,000 K-12 students, the BW partnership is the company's first Academy at the collegiate level.

Living learning lab

Caely Ressler and fellow engineering majors work on construction lab activity
Caely Ressler '25 (2nd from left) and her BW engineering classmates work their way through a Regency Construction Academy lab activity in spring 2024.

In a series of two-hour, on-site labs designed by Regency project manager Patty Lim, the BW students learned about the scope of the project, as well as scheduling and safety considerations. They designed and built a wall from their own drawings with the support of a Regency carpenter and added a Zip Wall sheathing system.

Students were taught about the unique engineering challenges of the project, including the deep fill from the former sandstone quarry at the site, which required installation of aggregate pier columns for stabilization.

For Ressler, the project brought textbook learning to life and introduced new concepts and applications.

"Experiences like this force us to focus on the practicalities of implementing what we learned. We refocus on integral questions such as 'Will this work in the real world, beyond just the theory?'"

Modeling diversity

BW engineering students at the Wallace Lake construction site participating in a hands-on Regency Construction Academy lab activity in Spring 2024.

BW engineering students at the Wallace Lake construction site participating in a hands-on Regency Construction Academy lab activity in spring 2024.

Lim notes that Academy participants are also exposed to diverse leadership at the female-led Regency.

"The makeup of our leadership team is uncommon in our male-dominated industry," Lim says. "Regency's Construction Academy gives us opportunities to model and promote construction and engineering careers to young women who are underrepresented in our field."

One major, many career paths

Ressler's eyes were opened to one of the many ways she might apply her degree.

"As a student in the Baldwin Wallace engineering program, we have a unique opportunity to pursue a wide range of job opportunities following graduation because we graduate from a general engineering program. Experiences like these introduce us to real work that we could pursue."

At the end of the day, Ressler, who also plays on the Yellow Jacket Women's Basketball team, sees real value in the experience.

"Whether it was seeing the business side of things, women in leadership positions, or the diversity of job opportunities within engineering, I believe everyone walked away with the knowledge and confidence that they could succeed in the same way in the future."

Engineering students huddle at job site

Media Contact

More News

BW students, faculty heading to Paris as Team USA Olympic volunteers

BW grad student one of five globally to receive Fulbright-National Geographic Awards

Leadership team moving Baldwin Wallace University forward