Project Engineer starts construction career with CANCO

Project Engineer starts construction career with CANCO Braeden Smith, Project Engineer

3 weeks, 2 days ago

Braeden Smith brings civil engineering degree, structural design focus to construction industry.

Fresh from his graduation ceremony at the University of Iowa, Braeden Smith has joined Carl A. Nelson & Company as a project engineer. Smith crossed the graduation stage on May 12, 2024, and started work with CANCO on May 20.

For Braeden, who resides in Burlington, Iowa, CANCO was a perfect fit.

"I think it's a miracle," he said of being contacted about an interview with a firm that would allow him to stay close to family and also use what he learned in four-and-a-half years at Iowa to be part of orchestrating building projects.

While civil engineering is traditionally a field associated with roads and bridges, Braeden's degree program was focused on structures, an interest he traces to the world-building computer game, SimCity. His father worked in construction most of Braeden's childhood, but he said his mother insisted that he go to school after he graduated from Burlington High School in 2019. Braeden started out with an interest in architecture but soon shifted gears to engineering. His senior project at Iowa was the real-world design of a new public works building for the City of Bondurant, Iowa. The 68,500 SF office and warehouse building was designed to be part of the city's planned civic campus concept. The student-led design will be reviewed by a licensed professional engineer to be signed or modified and used to create documents to take to bid.

In addition to his studies in engineering, Braeden is a 2nd Lietenant in the Iowa Army National Guard, serving with a combat engineering company out of Ottumwa; and was a member of the Army ROTC program at Iowa. He said ROTC and the Guard introduced him to project management, as well as hands-on construction.

Compared to other job opportunities he was presented with coming out of college, one benefit of working at CANCO, he said, will be that "I'm not just here at my desk. I'll be out in the field as well."

Braeden moved to Burlington in 2017 from near Champagne, Illinois, prior to starting his junior year of high school. He joined the National Guard a year later to earn money for college, and met his future wife, Presley, in a high school study hall. Now, the couple have been married for almost eight months, and he's looking forward to attending an officer training program that will further develop his leadership skills in and out of the Army. When not busy with work or the Guard, Braeden said he enjoys watching obscure sports on television and online, citing examples such as Strongman competitions, and professional arm-wrestling.