Colorado State University Department of Construction Management alumnus (’06), Matt Betts, started out in mechanical engineering at another university, because he was interested in working on cars! However, he quickly realized after a semester in that program that it was not the right field for him.
Having done some research about careers, he found the CM program and transferred to CSU. His desire to work on something tangible led him to conclude the best way to do that was to “build buildings.”
Betts joined JE Dunn Construction as a project engineer after graduating from CSU’s CM program in 2006. This opportunity gave him a solid foundation as a builder and contributed to his development as a project manager.
He has since progressed through several roles in the company, leading to his current role as vice president. He is accountable for project performance and promotes collaboration among design, construction, and owner teams. He leads the in-house operations training for project engineers and managers as part of JE Dunn’s national and regional teams.
Challenging, yet rewarding projects
Over the last 15 years, Betts has had the opportunity to work on many great Colorado projects including a 41-story high rise in downtown Denver, a confidential manufacturing project for a space program, an historic renovation of the Wyoming state capitol, and the expansion of the Larimer County jail.
“The most rewarding but also most difficult project I have worked on was the Wyoming Capitol Square project,” said Betts. “The process of simultaneously doing a historic renovation of the 130-year-old capitol, building a brand-new central utility plant, and doing a renovation and addition of a 350,000 square foot state office building on the same site, created a lot of different components to coordinate and manage.”
This project won the American Public Works Association Historic Project of the Year in 2021, the Associated General Contractors ACE Award for Construction Excellence in 2019, and the Engineering News-Record Best Projects in 2020. With all of the accolades of the project, Betts feels the most rewarding part was how impressed his 9 and 6-year-old daughters are that “Dad worked on one of the 50 U.S. state capitols,” said Betts. “It’s often one of the first things they mention when talking about me.”
Even though Betts has been able to build many great projects in his career, he most looks forward to building, developing, and supporting high-performing teams. He explains that having highly engaged project teams leads to a fun and rewarding work environment, and highly successful projects, as well.
Recently Betts was recognized as one of Engineering News-Record’s Mountain States’ 2022 Top Young Professionals. This annual regional program honors outstanding young construction and design professionals. Each region selects a group of individuals under the age of 40, who represent the industry’s top rising leaders by giving back to their industry and communities. Betts shared with ENR, “Now more than ever, it’s important for us to focus on the development and mentorship of young talent in the industry.”
“I continue to be passionate about facilitating our project engineer and project management training in the region,” Betts said. “While I still enjoy building buildings and showing my daughters the projects that I have been a part of over my career, the growth and development of my teams and their accolades provide me with the most fulfillment in my career.”
Gratitude for CM and encouraging its students
Betts commends the CSU CM program with doing a great job in exposing him to the many different components of construction, and offering opportunity within the industry. One of the key differentiators he sees with the CSU CM program is the strong industry support of students through presentations and work opportunities, such as summer internships. Betts noted that the CM program also includes opportunities to interact with the industry outside of the internship program.
Betts enjoys returning to CM to present unique aspects of his projects to construction management students. When asked what advice he might offer current or new students in the construction management program, Betts said, “I would encourage students early in the program to seek out opportunities in the industry to further develop their knowledge and experience. Be engaged by volunteering in the community in which you live. Be involved in the CM community. Develop strong friendships with your classmates; you will continue to see and work with them throughout your career. Take advantage of the opportunities provided by the industry partners at CSU. Most of all – have fun!”
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Betts came to Colorado for college and never left. He currently resides in Timnath, Colorado with his wife, Cassie, and their two daughters.
The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.