High school visit helps attract new project engineer

High school visit helps attract new project engineer
Joel Johnston, Project Engineer

1 year ago

Joel Johnston, a spring 2023 graduate of Kirkwood Community College recently began his career in the role of project engineer with Carl A. Nelson & Company in its Burlington, Iowa, office. The match can be traced to a what he called an eye-opening career presentation given by CANCO General Superintendent Mike Harris to Johnston's building trades class at Central Lee High School in Donnellson, Iowa.

In addition to taking classes in high school, Johnston grew up around construction, helping on projects with his grandpa and working summers for his uncle's residential construction company doing roofing, concrete and remodeling. After graduating from high school in 2020, he spent summers during college working for a concrete contractor, and doing dirt work for a site contractor in Solon, Iowa, between classes at Kirkwood.

Although he enjoyed being in the field and doing the work, graduating with a pair of Associate of Applied Science degrees in A/E/C-related fields — construction management and architectural technology — led his career aspirations into the office. Remembering the presentation by Harris, Johnston reached out to CANCO to ask about job opportunities.

Since starting with the company May15, 2023, Johnston is getting his feet wet assisting on projects for the YMCA of Washington County and the Mid-Prairie Community School District.

Away from work, Johnston enjoys boating; riding dirt bikes, including on annual trips west to Utah and Colorado; duck hunting; fishing; generally being outdoors; and spending time with friends and family, including his parents, Amy and Steve Johnston, and older brother, Jarrett, of Keokuk, Iowa.