Construction company teaches professor what to teach students

Construction company teaches professor what to teach students

GH Phipps wants to address the shortage of skilled workers in construction.


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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Matt Barrows is used to being in the front of the classroom as an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska. But, he’s spending his summer in Denver being a student.


“My main goal is to bring industry into the classroom,” Barrows said. He is working as a Professor in Residence at GH Phipps Construction in Greenwood Village. This program started three years ago to address an industry-wide problem.


“There is an aging workforce in our industry that needs to be filled,” Kate Lavicky, GH Phipps human resource partner, said. Lavicky said with all the construction going on around Denver, there is a demand for skilled workers to come out of college ready to go.


“The goal is (to) take a professor who’s very engaged at a university level in teaching various types of construction curriculum and bring them back into the workforce (to) get experience with industry in hopes they’ll take what they learn back to the classroom,” Lavicky said.


Barrows said it’s been a great experience learning at job sites, working with planners, and being exposed to the latest technology developments. He said he is staying current with the industry.

“It’s benefiting me more than them probably,” Barrows said.


Lavicky calls it a win-win.


“It’s a key function to make sure that the students that they are engaging with are caught up to speed and that they have the skills and the background needed that we as an industry require when they graduate,” Lavicky said.


Barrows believes his summer learning experience with have a ripple effect in his classes at the University of Nebraska.


“Construction management is a very hands-on industry and learning out of a textbook is not the way to get that done,” Barrows said. “I have a product that they want and so they have a vested interest in making that product more successful.”