Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2021
Kellen Rhoads says that he has always enjoyed building things and problem-solving. He also wanted to be an engineer, but with a mix of in-the-field experience. So, he pursued a degree in construction engineering at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
“The amazing part about construction engineering is the number of opportunities it can open an individual up to,” Rhoads says.
Engineering has changed Rhoads’ life by providing him with the confidence to solve any problem he faces.
“A lot of people don’t know how to find certain answers. Engineers know to not stop looking for them,” Rhoads says.
This curiosity and the experience he gained working on dynamic construction projects that he could watch come together in real time.
“When I interviewed for my first internship with the company that was responsible for the construction of the new Las Vegas football stadium and many more across the country, I knew I was on the right path,” Rhoads says. “My first internship was just off-campus at a hotel and my second landed me at the new ASU hockey arena.”
Those key internship experiences helped Rhoads conclude that construction engineering was right for him.
A trio of faculty members in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the seven Fulton Schools, was also central to that choice and stood out during Rhoads’ time at ASU: Professor Samuel Ariaratnam, Faculty Associate Wylie Bearup and Faculty Associate Chase Farnsworth.
“These three shared stories about different projects they had previously been on that really inspired what was possible in the industry,” Rhoads says. “They spent extra time outside of class sharing their experiences and tips with me.”
Rhoads says his favorite part of engineering is discovering answers to challenges that might be unique but are verifiable, and that developing defendable answers on your own is very satisfying.
Rhoads has accepted an offer at Mortenson Construction as a field engineer in their Phoenix office. He says his long-term goal is to make a name for himself in the industry with the possibility of one day sharing those future experiences as a professor.
“Once you make it up the mountain,” Rhoads says, “it is your duty to turn around and help the next person up.”