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Colin Schiesl
September 13, 2023

A blueprint for success: Schiesl’s journey from student to alum

Written By: Stephanies Vang


For Colin Schiesl, current senior and soon-to-be alum from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a passion for construction management and dedication to academics and extracurriculars have set him on a path of success and growth over the last four and a half years.

Schiesl’s upbringing in Cedarburg, Wisconsin was marked with an active lifestyle and a love for the outdoors. Influenced by his father (BSIE ’88) and grandfather’s (BSME ’55) engineering backgrounds rooting back to UW-Madison and his growing interest in math and physics during high school, Schiesl embraced the world of engineering.

“A friend told me that you should choose your college major based on what you enjoy outside of school. From building wooden forts in boy scouts to watching YouTube videos and documentaries on mega projects, I gravitated towards civil engineering with the hopes of becoming a structural engineer,” shares Schiesl.

Colin Schiesl on top of the  ōLiv Madison apartments during construction.
Colin Schiesl onsite during construction of the Oliv Madison apartments near the Capitol.

As dreams change over time, Schiesl’s career progression did too. Going from structural engineering to construction engineering and management, mentors like Dr. Awad Hanna and adjunct professor Jeff Aiken significantly impacted him. Their courses in construction project management and construction law inspired a new internship and career path for Schiesl, which provided him with valuable insights.

During a co-op at Findorff, he participated in onsite projects such as the Oliv Madison apartments and managed specific tasks like running the signage scope and punch list for multiple projects.

Most recently, during the summer of 2023, he went on to intern with Hensel Phelps in San Diego, gaining more hands-on experience that complements his classroom learning. His involvement in the Ridgewalk North Living and Learning Community project with Hensel Phelps offered a diverse setting for Schiesl to put his modeling skills in Revit to use. He had previously learned Revit from his classwork in CEE 392, Building Information Modeling, which became an integral part of his everyday work.

In addition to interning, Schiesl continues to engage with several of CEE’s student organizations. As President of the Construction Club, he played a pivotal role in planning and hosting the 23rd Annual Construction Club Banquet for the first time since 2019. Schiesl has gained several opportunities since to represent the club and provide a community for other construction-interested students.

Students attend the 2023 NECA - Wisconsin Chapter's winter meeting
Construction Club members Colin Schiesl (left), Lauren Welker (center), and Elyse Miramontes (right) gather at the 2023 NECA-Wisconsin Chapter’s Winter Meeting. 

“Together, we’ve hosted events to help students get internships, put together volunteer events with Habitat for Humanity, and hosted several fun outings, like a trip to Miller Park. The connections I’ve made and the knowledge I’ve gained have been extremely valuable early in my career. I’ve been able to make a lot of great friends interested in the same things as me.”

His involvement on campus doesn’t stop there. Schiesl has been participating in the Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge (ECIC) competition, representing the first UW-Madison student chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to participate in this event. Navigating through electrical work during this experience landed the team first overall with a spot at finals this fall.

With graduation on the horizon, Schiesl’s plan includes venturing into the commercial construction industry with hopes to work onsite to gain the most experience early in his career.

Schiesl’s journey hasn’t been without its share of challenges. Balancing academics, work, and social life presented hurdles that he overcame through strategic time management. As civil electives don’t start until later in one’s academic career, it’s important to get involved through extracurricular activities. Schiesl advises connecting with other civil engineering students who have more on-campus experience to gain insight on coursework planning and jobs for the future.

From his student experience before and after COVID, he shares, “Instead of thinking you don’t know if you can take that summer internship all the way in California or you don’t know if you have time to fit in that fun war movie class, embrace the opportunities because they don’t last for long.”