Building Impacts Lives

New Engineering & Construction Management Building Affects Students

By Lucas Roebuck '97 & Scarlett Kerby '11
6/28/2018 4:47:42 PM

To help with Dr. Pollard’s Feb. 2 announcement of a new engineering and construction management building, four students from those programs told their JBU story. The new facility will enable JBU to continue to equip quality engineers and builders to be leaders in their respective industries.


Grant O’Neal is Grant O'Neala senior construction management major and when he graduates, he already has a job lined up with Turner Construction, one of the largest and most prestigious general contractors in the United States. Turner’s buildings have included such landmarks as the United Nations Building in New York and INVESCO Field in Denver. Grant said that, as a senior in college, Turner is more than he could ask for. “The opportunities that this company offers are endless, “ he said.

Grant is from central Texas, and he came to JBU because his Bible study leader and close family friend was an alumnus and he encouraged him to visit. After he did, he said that he received multiple calls to see how he was doing, and he soon realized how much JBU cared for its students. “I definitely did not receive this level of attention from any state school that I had applied to,” he said.

The care that JBU gave also helped Grant with his faith. “I came into my freshman year in a very low point in my spiritual walk. I knew that coming to a university like JBU would help me get back on track. I instantly found accountability and acceptance among my fellow classmates.

Through passion groups and the rugby team I found true community and a brotherhood that I would not trade for the world.” The CM program graduates have an advantage in their hands-on experience. “With interviews that I’ve had in the past, every company that I’ve talked to has been impressed by how hands-on JBU’s department has been. We actually get to see a project before we graduate instead of hearing about it and looking at pictures,” he said.





The “hands-on” quality JBU offered was echoed by the senior construction management major Megan Owens. “JBU’s ConstruMegan Owensction Management program offers a great opportunity for the freshmen and the seniors each year to work on an actual construction project,” she said. “It really gives us a different side of construction that we can’t learn in the classroom, and I think it’s something that separates JBU’s program from other programs.”

Megan is from Siloam Springs and she moved from California in the sixth grade. She never had any intention of going to JBU once she graduated, but through prayer and JBU’s financial assistance, JBU ended up being a good fit for her. Megan said JBU has really helped in preparation for her career, and also for her life. “Aside from my major, JBU has also prepared me to enter the ‘real world.’ I feel JBU creates an atmosphere that allows you to grow and strengthen yourself. I am prepared to graduate and begin the next stage of my life,” she said.

Megan will work as a Project Engineer for Flintco in Oklahoma City when she graduates. “I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. The girls have met are not only great friends, but they are also great examples of Godly women. The construction management guys have become close friends and at times, they feel like brothers. The most influential relationship I have from JBU is with my fiancé. Matt [Menhennett,’08], has continually pushed me and encouraged me throughout my time at JBU. His education in ministry has helped him show me how to be a better witness for Christ and how to continually strengthen my faith.”


Thomas CongdonThomas Congdon is a senior majoring in engineering. He attended high school in Kenya at Rift Valley Academy and he applied to a variety of leading Christian colleges, one of which was JBU. Thomas said that his decision making process was focused on the financial package and the quality of the engineering program.

“Through a lot of prayer and research, it was clear to me that JBU was a good fit for me, and the high academic standards provided a first-class
engineering program,” he said. Thomas said that JBU has improved his life in numerous ways. Spiritually JBU provided him a safe environment to examine his beliefs and search out answers for many difficult questions that have helped him to develop well.

Academically, Thomas said that JBU has provided many challenging and valuable classes that have taught him everything from essential life skills to tedious mathematical proofs. “As a result of my time at JBU, I have a more focused vision for my life and I am now better equipped emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for the tasks that God sets before me. More importantly, JBU has helped me develop a passion for learning that will benefit me as I continue to grow as an individual and learn to serve God in new ways,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that JBU is unique because it doesn’t compromise its Christian message or its academic excellence. This excellence has helped Thomas and three other students receive a $5,000 grant from NASA to develop a lunar excavator robot. Thomas said that the goals of this project are to design, build, and test a robot that will dig dirt on the moon. In May, Thomas and his teammates will go to the Kennedy Space Center for the final competition.

Only a select number of students received this opportunity, and Thomas said that the process has been daunting but rewarding. “I have no idea what the competition will hold for our team, but I know that no matter the outcome, we will feel successful knowing we completed the project with our best efforts,” he said.Katie Sessler


Katie Sessler is a senior from Cleveland, Tenn., majoring in engineering, and after she graduates she will attend graduate school in Saudi Arabia at King Abdullah
University of Science and Technology. Katie said this opportunity makes her anxious, however, she is more nervous about the academics of the school than the location. “I am extremely excited about getting to experience a new culture and work with teams of people that are from all over the world. It will be a fascinating and a completely once-in- a-lifetime experience,” she said.

During her time at JBU, she went on the Jordan studies trip, and said that she fell in love with the Middle Eastern culture. It was there that she felt the call to long-term missions in the Middle East. Before she goes overseas, Katie will finish work on an EPA grant to create a solar water heater for developing countries  a project that kept her busy for several semesters.

Katie said that the JBU engineering program is unique both because of its broad base in electrical and mechanical
engineering and because of its teachers. “My professors have all been extremely supportive and helpful through everything that I have wanted to do over the years, and they have all pushed me to reach for a potential that I never saw in myself.”

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