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This 25-Year-Old Has Mature Responsibilities on Powerplant Project

From building concrete canoes to building a $350-million powerplant, Jason Krueger has performed all kinds of construction and engineering work, and all by the age of 25. Hired by Boldt Construction, the largest construction company in Wisconsin, while still attending University of Wisconsin, Madison, Krueger values his few years in the field more than his 17 years of education.

"Experience is what everyone is looking for," Krueger says.

Krueger’s construction education began in high school, when he took weekend classes at UW Madison and participated in an Explorers program on construction. In college, he earned a degree in civil engineering while emphasizing a construction engineering and management program that is currently being made into a major. While busy building concrete canoes for the American Society of Civil Engineers’ competitions, and participating in UW’s Construction Club, Krueger decided to do a co-op program at Boldt Construction. For eight months, Krueger worked full-time for Boldt, where at first he remained in the office, "looking at drawings and getting familiar with their projects," he says.

After two months in the office, Krueger was placed on site at Appleton Medical Center in Appleton, Wis., where Boldt was building an ambulatory surgery addition.

"I felt pretty lost at first," Krueger says, "but I had a lot of support around me. They didn’t treat me like some little kid."

Work on the medical center included a main drive-up canopy and an all glass entrance, lobby and waiting room. One of the first problems Krueger faced was laying out a radius for the large glass entrance. Because the architect had not detailed the radius well, Krueger used the skills he had learned in classes to lay it out himself.

Krueger’s project manager for the medical center project and for all of his other projects at Boldt, Patrick Loughrin, remembers that even Krueger’s first days on site showed that he was a good fit for Boldt.

Krueger's first project at Boldt was at Appleton Medical Center

"Jason was very enthusiastic and aggressive from the beginning," Loughrin says. "He was willing to learn and was always looking for things to accomplish. He didn’t wait for things to be handed to him."

Learning was a big part of Krueger’s first months at Boldt because most of Krueger’s knowledge was from books, not field experience. However, Krueger quickly moved to being a project manager on another project, building a dining hall for a Boy Scout camp. Loughrin says that Krueger’s first job as project manager went well, although he made some mistakes.

"Jason was a little too optimistic on some stuff," Loughrin says. "Some things needed closer attention to detail."

A project that followed, remodeling a shelter for abused women, was where Krueger "grew up a lot," Loughrin says.

Krueger believes that much of his early success was a result of his attitude with his supervisors. "A lot has to do with how you ask questions, and I always tried to respect them and be polite," he says.

When Boldt offered Krueger a full-time position, he eagerly accepted, even though he still had a year of college to finish. Boldt is headquartered in Appleton, Krueger’s hometown, and he also liked their large size, "because there’s a lot of opportunity to grow in the company." Krueger also liked that everyone in the company knows each other, and even top executives make a point of talking to everyone.

Now Krueger is focused on his largest project to date, a $350-million gas-fired turbine and steam generation facility in Beloit, Wis. Krueger is the civil field engineer for the plant, which is being built for Calpine Corp. Although he works 60 hours a week or more now, "It’s well worth it," he says. "I’d never think of changing what I do."

Krueger still has the time to visit high schools and recruit for the construction industry, as well as return to UW for career fairs. Eventually Krueger would like to return to UW for mechanical and electrical training, but he does not plan on earning a Master’s degree.

"A Master’s degree won’t help you get a job, while job experience is what’s more important," he says. His business minor has been invaluable, however, because he deals with contracts and labor relations every day.

The long hours and challenging work have been rewarding for Krueger, because, he says, "I love what I’m doing."



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