Purdue Faculty Advisors’ Summer Internships at MCAA Member Companies Benefit Jobsites & Students

August 25, 2023

Jason Merchant and Ryan Manuel, both faculty advisors for the student chapter at Purdue University, took advantage of the John R. Gentille Foundation (JRGF) Faculty Continuing Education Grant to intern with MCAA member companies this summer. By working in the industry, they better understand  the challenges and opportunities that students may face and are thus better prepared to advise them. This industry experience will also help them to better teach mechanical subject matter, so the students coming out of their classes are better prepared to excel in our industry. 

Garvey France (HFI Intern) / Ryan Manuel (D.A. Dodd Faculty Intern) / Hayden Copass (D.A. Dodd Intern)

Ryan Manuel spent his summer with D.A. Dodd (Lafayette, IN) as a Faculty Intern. He used his academic and industry background to participate in a multi-dimensional role that included assisting with summer interns, conducting site visits, attending project status meetings and promoting the use of construction management software.  He conducted a workshop on software for D.A. Dodd’s foremen to help them streamline processes and to boost overall productivity. 

“Interning at D.A. Dodd offered an immersive and eye-opening exposure to the day-to-day operations of a growing mechanical contractor. I encountered intricate project schedules, struggled with tight budgets, and grasped the intricacies of team dynamics – something that can’t be fully replicated in a classroom setting. I gained extensive knowledge from observing complex mechanical installations and coordinating with subcontractors.  The D.A. Dodd team’s remarkable ability to solve on-site problems with ingenuity and resilience was truly amazing.  The experience highlighted the significance of adaptability, which I intend to emphasize to my students as I return to the classroom this fall.” 

Ryan Manuel, Purdue University Faculty Advisor
Tristan Ruhlman (HFI Intern) /  Brady Wever (Project Manager) / Jason Merchant (HFI Faculty Intern)

Jason Merchant spent his summer with Harrell-Fish, Inc. (HFI) (Columbus, IN), primarily on renovation of an old mall that is turning into an all-inclusive medical complex. Every type of medical doctor from a general practitioner to an endocrinologist will be in the facility, which is designed to boost community well-being by making medical appointments more convenient.

“In my CM 150 materials and methods class I stress 3 things:

  1. Respect for the men and women who do the day to day work.
  2. Safety is of utmost importance for a successful project. 
  3. The construction industry as a whole tends to become a small world with the more experience you garner. 

All three of these points came to fruition this summer during my Faculty Internship. I am unique in the aspect that I am a card-carrying UA member and am able to still perform field work.  My involvement with the MCAA and MCAI has also kept me relevant and up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. It’s obvious to any student who comes into our classroom or lab at Purdue that I am passionate about the mechanical industry. The JRGF scholarship will allow me to help foster that passion by sharing my first-hand experience and knowledge with my students. The primary objectives that I’ll be bringing back to the classroom this fall include lessons learned from the field, working as a team, and the importance of effectively communicating in this industry.

Additionally, boots on the ground is an important part in the big picture of the mechanical industry. The JRGF grant was a fortuitous opportunity and something that I feel many MCAA faculty advisors should utilize. Anyone who teaches HVAC, mechanical or plumbing curriculum will grow and benefit from a summer spent with an MCAA member, made possible by the JRGF grant. The opportunity to work with member contractors is invaluable.” 

Jason Merchant, Purdue University Faculty Advisor

Learn More

MCAA members interested in employing a faculty advisor over the summer or faculty interested applying for a JRGF Faculty Continuing Education Grant should contact MCAA Director of Career Development, Michele Hoffman at mhoffman@mcaa.org for additional information about the program for Summer 2024. 

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