Kevin Voda, right, general superintendent with Weis Builders, works with student Xiaoxuan Wu on the Nest construction site

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Before it became a place to study with last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, The Nest was a place to be studied. That was the determination of Business Instructor Patrick Delaney when he saw the construction site in Fall 2015.

Delaney had just begun teaching an undergraduate Operations Management class, his first at Northeastern, when he invited the project superintendent to come speak about the project control system used for the construction tasks.

Kevin Voda, the general superintendent with Weis Builders, was happy to oblige—and then took it a step further by offering a handful of students exclusive access to the site and his operations for their operations analysis papers. “The students jumped all over it,” Voda said. “They were not afraid to call me up and ask to stop by at 5 p.m. We just accommodated what they needed to do.”

From marketing to accounting to quality control, 10 students submerged themselves in The Nest, producing analysis papers that impressed both Voda and Delaney. “This was an actual operations analysis,” said Delaney, a Northeastern alumnus who repeated the project with his Spring 2016 class. “It gave students the opportunity to see how big projects are managed.”

Students sat in on weekly subcontractor meetings, interviewed Northeastern officials and even quality-checked room installations. Voda was particularly impressed by the work of Edwin Mijares, a senior majoring in Finance and Accounting who found a window that had been incorrectly caulked. “I’m telling you, this kid dove into details,” Voda said. “I sent his paper up to our main office, and our two lead guys for quality want to meet him.”

Mijares plans to go into banking—far from any construction site—but he still valued the experience working with Voda and watching how he solved problems and conflicts. “I’m hoping to take these management skills and people skills and apply them when I start working in the banking industry,” he said.

John Gomez, a senior majoring in Finance, focused his project on the interface between Northeastern, Weis and American Campus Communities, the company that will finance and manage all assets of the property and operations. How would they communicate about students who break the rules? Or students who drop out of their classes? His conclusion: “They have this under control. I really did nitpick. I was trying to find something they hadn’t covered, but they were very thorough.”

With only a couple of semesters left before he graduates, Gomez does not plan to move into The Nest, but he knows someone who might be a good candidate in a couple of years. “I would feel comfortable encouraging my sister to stay at The Nest,” he said. “Seeing the type of quality and thought process that goes into making the space great for students—it doesn’t get better than that.”

Top photo: Kevin Voda, general superintendent with Weis Builders, works with student Xiaoxuan Wu on the construction site during the Fall 2015 semester.