Partnership Constructs Unique Educational Opportunities for Undergraduates

Vice President and Construction Executive Paul Parmentola ’84 CE presents one of the company’s current projects, FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, to a class of freshmen Civil Engineering majors. Seated to Parmentola’s left is James Folgia ’89 ME, PE, project executive.  At the front of the room are Turner employees Amy Ignatosky ’05 ME and Mark Jackson ’14 CE.
Vice President and Construction Executive Paul Parmentola ’84 CE presents one of the company’s current projects, FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, to a class of freshmen Civil Engineering majors. Seated to Parmentola’s left is James Folgia ’89 ME, PE, project executive. At the front of the room are Turner employees Amy Ignatosky ’05 ME and Mark Jackson ’14 CE.

On April 27, 2015, four representatives from Turner Construction Company—all Villanova Engineering alumni—returned to campus to speak to classes of freshmen Civil Engineering majors. They provided an inside look at two of the company’s current projects—the Celgene Building L Office Development and the FMC Tower at Cira Centre South—and introduced the new Villanova University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Construction Portal, which will provide students with access to designated resources in Turner’s library of more than 400 online courses.

One of the largest construction management companies in the United States, Turner employs about 50 Villanova alumni in its New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia offices. Paul Parmentola ’84 CE, vice president and construction executive, has been with the company since graduation, and James Folgia ’89 ME, PE, project executive, has been there for 15 years. They were accompanied on this visit by more recent hires Amy Ignatosky ’05 ME and Mark Jackson, who earned his Civil Engineering degree last May. 

In introducing the Turner/Villanova Learning portal, which is being made available at no cost to students, Folgia spoke of the company’s interest in partnering with the College and opening up a field in which many Civil and Mechanical Engineering majors may one day find themselves employed. “The courses available through the portal will help students learn the vernacular of this industry, and demonstrate their willingness to go above and beyond, to learn more on their own.” He adds, “Taking that extra step is impressive to employers.”

This valuable co-curricular resource will help prepare engineers for career opportunities in the construction field. Course content includes professional development material applicable to any engineering career, such as interpersonal communication, business writing, presentation skills, Excel applications, leadership training and career path planning. Construction-specific courses include those related to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), safety training, building envelopes, project management, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) fundamentals. In all, more than 50 courses will be made available to Villanova engineering students.

David Dinehart, PhD, chair and professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, thanked Parmentola and Folgia for bringing this partnership to fruition. He told students, “I’m pleased that the portal is going to provide you with resources relative to where you are now and where you might be going as a civil engineer.” For students who take full advantage of the portal, he and John Komlos, PhD, assistant professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, think that a “Turner Certificate” may be a means of recognizing students’ completion of on-line coursework in specific areas. Other ideas for the coming academic year include a class trip to a Turner project site, and on-campus educational and networking opportunities with Turner and other construction companies. For Dr. Dinehart, the ultimate goal is to develop a curriculum for a Construction Management minor within the College of Engineering.

Reflecting on the Turner/Villanova relationship, Assistant Dean of External Relations Keith Argue says: “One of the College’s highest priorities is bringing ‘real world engineering’ into the undergraduate curriculum. We cannot provide such experiential learning and unique educational opportunities without strategic partners like Turner. We are grateful for their support.”