Construction Management Student Gets Solid Start to Future
Mateus Avalos admits his growth in college surprises even him.
The graduating senior and Chico native went from having almost no knowledge of the construction management industry to working on crews for private companies and using his skills to help lead community service projects in his hometown.
During his senior year, he worked with the student chapter of the Association of General Contractors (AGC) to build canopies at the Torres Community Shelter in Chico to provide shade for residents and protection for storage containers. And this spring, he has been part of the student team that built a shed for the Child Development Lab at Chico State that created more storage space for children’s equipment.
Now, with just weeks to go before Commencement, Avalos is helping with preconstruction work on a dog kennel for the Torres Shelter. The project, a collaborative effort guided by the current leadership of the AGC club, will allow more unhoused people to access care if they have a safe place to board their pets.
“Having the privilege to help our community through these projects, and seeing people excited to be involved, has been fulfilling,” Avalos said. “Additionally, the camaraderie built on these projects is something you can’t trade. I believe it is our duty as a club to be role models in our community and we can do just that through these experiences.”
Avalos also can’t help but marvel a bit at how he reached this point at all. When he first transferred to Chico State from Butte College in 2020, he began taking civil engineering course, but the concepts were not quite resonating, he said. He wanted to work in construction and engineering, but in a role that would allow him to be in the field and collaborate with others.
Professor Chris Souder suggested construction management might be what he was looking for. The degree blends industry knowledge with essential skills targeting construction oversight for companies of all sizes—managing projects including schools, hospitals, transportation infrastructure, and so much more. And at Chico State, the program—which has a 90 percent job placement rate upon graduation—offers countless opportunities to learn outside the classroom, from student clubs to competitions and community service projects to internships.
In the last three years, Avalos embraced them all. Now on the brink of completing his degree and with an internship in Colorado over the summer working as a project engineer, he’s so thankful to have found his home in construction management.
“It’s just nice to have a group of people that I feel passionate about and feel passionate about me too,” he said.
In addition to the close-knit, hands-on environment of the department, it also paved the way to work in the field before even completing his degree.
Driven and gregarious by nature, Avalos completed two summer paid internships while at Chico State. His first internship took him to the coastal town of Carmel and near Salinas, where he worked on roadways and did concrete work on the Carmel Mission Basilica. In 2022, he spent his summer in San Francisco working for a high-rise contractor.
“The opportunities the Construction Management program offers our students are unmatched,” he said. “It was one reason I decided to come here. Also, the clubs are great to get ‘boots on the ground’ experience on job sites and meet industry professionals.
Avalos also found time to engage in the University and the Department of Construction Management. He has been president and vice president of the Sigma Lambda Chi Construction Management Honor Society, co-captain of the Associated Schools of Construction Commercial Team, and secretary of the Association of General Contractors. He has helped coordinate dinners, tournaments, and other networking events critical to the success of the program and its students. Avalos’ welcoming smile is also what greets prospective, incoming, and transfer students at on-campus events, local and Sacramento trade days, and high school visits in Chico.
A leader in and outside of the classroom, Avalos is praised by members of the Department of Construction Management for consistently volunteering his time to improve and grow the department and the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management.
“Mateus has been an inspirational person to know and be around,” said Souder. “I enjoy seeing how his peers look up to him and admire him as a friend and a colleague. He is multi-talented and is not afraid to take on new and adventurous endeavors.”
For Avalos, it’s important to pay it forward. He was once the kid searching for guidance from mentors, he said. It’s gratifying having kids and new students look up to him.
“That’s been the most fulfilling part of me being in the program—being a leadership figure for younger students and seeing it come full circle,” he said.