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Chico State

Engineering Student Finds His Footing

Tim O'Shea sprays water on a cylinder of concrete over a metal grate in the concrete lab.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Tim O’Shea is graduating with a bachelors degree in both Construction Management and Concrete Industry Management, as well as a minor in Business Administration. O’Shea, a CIM Student Ambassador works in the concrete lab on Thursday, April 25, 2019 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU Chico)

Whether working for local, state, or federal-level political campaigns or completing engineering projects at Chico State, Tim O’Shea draws a surprising number of parallels.

“Campaigns are actually a lot like building a major structure,” he said. “I enjoy going to work and seeing progress toward a big goal each day.”

From initial strategy to the execution, the graduating senior knows attention to detail, hard work, and dedication are critical components—and they are the same traits by which he pursued his undergraduate education.

The once-aspiring political science major, who worked on a congressional campaign in community college, is preparing to graduate this month with degrees in concrete industry management (CIM) and construction management. O’Shea’s professors, peers, and supervisor share one sentiment: he has left his mark.

“Every so often, we are lucky enough to truly make an impression on a student who passes through our building. What is even luckier is having a student make that kind of impression on us,” said Amanda Muller, who manages CIM program recruitment and fundraising. “Tim’s impact on our college and programs will last long after graduation.”

Portrait of Tim O'Shea holding a cylinder of concrete
In addition to his many other extracurricular responsibilities, Tim O’Shea served as a teaching assistant for the “Advanced Concrete Technologies” lab.

One of O’Shea’s largest legacies is the playground at Caper Acres. On sunny, warm days, the historic playground in Bidwell Park is filled with yet another generation of children playing on the swing sets gently shaded by towering oak trees. It’s a stark contrast from two years ago, when a winter storm significantly damaged the structures and required temporary closure of the popular attraction.

O’Shea was a leader on the student team that completed more than 2,400 hours of volunteer service to rebuild and restore the playground. During the build, he could be found overseeing scheduling, guiding construction, and forming and finishing the concrete, all while laughing and smiling with his peers and faculty.

“Concrete Industry Management is a small, close-knit group. Not only are we classmates, we are friends,” said O’Shea. “The program is like a family.”

A transfer student from American River College, O’Shea was initially drawn to Chico State for its construction management department. While attending Choose Chico, the CIM mixer truck parked outside the engineering buildings was hard to miss. He met with Muller and CIM students, and quickly decided a combination of the two majors was the right fit for him.

He especially appreciated the industry experience and knowledge faculty brought to the classroom, he said. One highlight for O’Shea was how professor Rich Holman weaved his experience rebuilding part of the Shasta Dam into case studies for four different classes, allowing students to understand all aspects of the project.

As O’Shea’s studies progressed, his affinity for CIM led him to be a student ambassador for the program, hitting the road to recruit new students from high schools and community colleges. He also served as a teaching assistant for the “Advanced Concrete Technologies” lab, and as president of the American Concrete Institute student chapter at Chico State, he led fellow CIM students through community service projects and competitions using coaching and leadership methods he learned from his faculty.

For several years, he also trained and competed for the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Competition, where he helped lead the Wildcats to victory—including a first-place ranking in the commercial division at this year’s competition.

Tim OShea unwraps a concrete cylinder from a paper covering in the curing room of the concrete lab.
O’Shea, seen here in the campus concrete lab curing room, plans a career in heavy civil construction after graduation.

Alan Bond, a construction management associate professor who coached the ASC team for two years and guided students through 120 hours of preparation annually, said he watched O’Shea grow as a student leader within both of his majors. Over the past two years, Bond said, O’Shea has cultivated his passion for his education, teammates, and family, all while performing exceptionally in the classroom.

“Tim’s commitments outside and inside the classroom demonstrate that he is a well-rounded student, taking advantage of multiple aspects of the University’s learning environment,” Bond said. “Tim’s future success, both academically and professionally, will come to fruition due to his work ethic and leadership skills.”

Other faculty echo the praises.

“He is both extremely hardworking and truly insightful. These two traits combine to produce a most outstanding student,” said Mohammed Albahttiti, CIM assistant professor. “His dedication to the field of concrete, as well as to his colleagues is unparalleled and demonstrates his character.”

As O’Shea navigated his way through the technical skills learned in construction management and concrete industry management, he developed key soft skills through the built-in business administration minor. He also began to hone his specific interests in the heavy civil construction area.

A summer 2018 internship with Kiewit as a field engineer intern at the Oroville Dam batch plant solidified his career aspirations. And after graduation, O’Shea will start his career as a field engineer for Kiewit.

As he looks forward to launching his career, O’Shea knows he’ll keep a close connection with Chico State. His fiancée, Casey Bell, is a junior studying communication design. Further down the road, he wants to be involved with the Chico CIM Patrons, a group of influential industry leaders who provide guidance and support for the CIM program.

“Chico State has given so much to me. I’m blessed,” said O’Shea. “I’m not one to sit on the sidelines. That would be my advice to future students—get involved.”