GRAND CHUTE – Whatever career Dylan Casey chose to pursue, he wanted it to be one in which he could make a difference.
That’s why the 20-year-old Portage native landed in construction, an industry that’s essential to maintaining infrastructure, building cities, towns and villages, and ensuring all buildings — hospitals, office buildings and everything else — are safe and up-to-date.
A student in his second semester in Fox Valley Technical College’s construction management technology program, Casey is well on his way to making the difference he’d dreamed of. Just not in the way he imagined.
About three months into his job as a field engineer intern for The Boldt Company, the coronavrius pandemic hit, shutting down businesses and schools. Fox Valley Technical College was not spared.
Instead of hunkering down at home, Casey found himself among those considered “essential workers.” He was soon helping to build temporary care center for Aurora Health Care sites in Green Bay, Marinette, Oshkosh and Two Rivers.
Although the internship is now over — economic fallout from COVID-19 caused it to be rescinded early last month — Casey is grateful for the experience.
“The impact that construction makes is kind of the reason I’m in it,” Casey said. “It’s something I’m passionate about, so this is a story that will be engraved in my memory for a long time. It was just unreal to be part of this.”
Although Casey had previously been juggling school with Boldt projects at Kimberly Clark and the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, his priority shifted in mid-March to acquiring supplies for two main projects: Drive-thru testing centers and overflow tents used to treat patients.
The turnaround time for those projects? Just two weeks.
The experience was a bit of a whirlwind, Casey said, but he feels it was invaluable to his future in construction.
“Being out in the field is where I feel like I’m able to learn the most,” Casey said. “And what I learned above all is that construction is very unpredictable. It’s never going to be the same day to day. You learn quickly that the industry is always changing and always adapting to people’s needs.”
But that got Casey thinking about how his classmates we’re doing, many of them stuck at home and learning online because field trips weren’t considered. So, he decided to let others know of his experiences by making a video about construction.
“You don’t really learn from behind a computer … When you’re sitting in class and learning about all the building codes, you tend to get a little lost in it all,” Casey said. “So I think if someone’s able to share this with other students, I thought it’d be a really good learning tool.”
Casey said the class’s discussion of his video allowed him to think about the construction differently.
“It was really cool to see (my classmates’) comments,” Casey said. “They pointed out things I didn’t even think of.”
Rich Cass, a construction management technology instructor at Fox Valley Technical College, said the footage was invaluable to his online classes.
“The video tours bring a real-world scenario to class to supplement the field trips we cannot normally do because of COVID-19,” he said. “Dylan’s ability to think critically demonstrates his passion for others on both a job site and in class.”