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.
Kruegers 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 UWs 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 didnt 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.
Kruegers project manager
for the medical center project and for all of his other projects
at Boldt, Patrick Loughrin, remembers that even Kruegers
first days on site showed that he was a good fit for Boldt.
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 didnt wait for things to be handed to
Learning was a big part of Kruegers
first months at Boldt because most of Kruegers 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 Kruegers
first job as project manager went well, although he made some
"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,
Kruegers hometown, and he also liked their large size,
"because theres 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, "Its
well worth it," he says. "Id 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 Masters degree.
"A Masters degree wont
help you get a job, while job experience is whats more
important," he says. His business minor has been invaluable,
however, because he deals with contracts and labor relations
The long hours and challenging
work have been rewarding for Krueger, because, he says, "I
love what Im doing."