UC Alumni Return to Build Nippert

By: Liz Daubenmire

The entire Turner Construction team working to complete the Nippert Stadium renovations are alumni from the University of Cincinnati, including project manager, Steve Swisher.

Model of Nippert Renovations

Model of Nippert Renovations

While many of the graduates of the University of Cincinnati go on to find good jobs, only a few find themselves working back on campus.  Steven Swisher, project manager for the Nippert project, and his entire Turner Construction staff working on the stadium are all alumni of UC.  The graduates have found themselves back on campus to complete to 40,000 seat expansion of UC’s football stadium. 

The new stadium is expected to be completed for the 2015 season, with additional suites, restrooms, and viewing decks.  The renovations cost about $86 million, half of which has already been raised by the UC foundation. 

According to a report in April, the new structure will be approximately 390 feet wide, and one and a half stories taller than the previous press box.

Steven Swisher graduated from UC in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in construction management and has since worked for Turner Construction.  As Swisher reflects on what it’s like to lead a major project at his alma mater, he explains, “It has been a very exciting opportunity for me from the time that I first learned that we were even competing for the project, to when we learned that we had been awarded the project and now through the construction of what will be one of the best facilities in the country.” 

Once walking to class down the marble Nippert steps, now Steve Swisher is renovating, and refiguring the very space he frequented while studying construction.

Swisher attributes much of his success in the world of construction to his education and cooperative placements at UC.  “The co-op program gave me the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the industry and experience it via different company models whether it be a large construction management firm or a small general contractor.  Those experiences allowed me to develop an understanding of contract types, financial models, client expectation and much more.  It also allowed me to further develop my people skills from working with management levels to the tradesmen.”

Steve Swisher’s education has also come full circle.  His story, along with those of the other alumni working on the 2015 Nipper Stadium are proof that the University of Cincinnati is training future engineers with the same skill sets and levels of expertise needed to land jobs after graduation. 

Project manager, Steve Swisher

Project manager, Steve Swisher

Steven is in good company with six fellow alums at his side.  Project Executive Bob Grace graduated from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Design, and Planning (DAAP) with a degree in architecture (1981).  Bryan Popen (1995), General Superintendent on the project graduated from the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) with a degree in construction management along with Area Superintendent Ray Mervar (2012), and Project Engineer Chris Borman (2008).  Also from CEAS, Site and Safety Superintendent, Dennis Cooper graduated with a degree in safety management in 1976.  Finally, Rich Bauer, MEP Superintendent graduated in 1982 with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

Project Executive Bob Grace started working for Turner during his co-op experience as an undergrad in DAAP and continues to work there 30 years later.  His time at UC proved beneficial as he explains, “I always felt the instruction I received at UC prepared me well for the challenges I faced in my professional life.”  Bob embraced his networking opportunities as a student at UC and to this day regularly interacts with his classmates who are involved in the design and construction industry in Cincinnati.

Project Engineer, Chris Borman agrees with Bob in saying, “Construction is a relationship industry.  UC emphasized on how important it is to create new and build on existing relationships within the industry.”

The opportunity to return to UC for work is a special experience and is much appreciated by Bob who says, “It’s fantastic to be back on campus.”  He continues by saying, “The campus has changed quite a bit since I was attending classes here and it is very satisfying to have an opportunity to be a part of it. Having a chance to build high quality facilities for these programs is something I am very proud of.”

Chris is also enjoying working on the Nippert Stadium renovations.  “The best part of being back on campus working is the ability to see the ever changing landscape of the campus.  New buildings, and renovations are taking shape every day.  To be a part of helping the university grow and prosper is something to take pride in.”

New Nippert design

New Nippert design

Also pointing back to UC’s co-op program, Chris says “The biggest contributor to shaping my career path while attending The University of Cincinnati was the CO-OP program.”  He continues, “The co-op program that UC provides is top notch and really sets the University apart from other colleges.  The real life job experience gives a student a leg up on other college graduates and provides the necessary experiences for a successful career.  The program allows you to explore the many parts of the construction industry and allows the student to find out what they are really interested in.”  

The Turner team is dedicated to finishing the renovations in time for next year’s football season. Bob Grace explains, “We are committed to finish up the Nippert Stadium expansion safely and on schedule for an exciting home opener in 2015. Go Bearcats!”

The massive renovation of Nipper Stadium is the first of its kind since 1992. A project of this caliber requires a tight team of only the best.  It just so happens, the University of Cincinnati’s selection of top engineers is made up of its graduates.