John Overton is helping transform an 84-acre plot of land from an empty field into the first phase of the ACC Round Rock Campus, set to open this August.
“I feel a real sense of accomplishment,” says Overton, who is employed by SpawGlass, the project’s general contractor. “Decades down the road, the campus will still be there, and I can drive by and know I played a part in its construction.”
This isn’t just a job to Overton. His interest is very personal – the longtime construction worker is also an ACC student who just completed his coursework for an associate degree in Building Construction Technology.
“It’s bringing my education full circle,” remarks Overton. “I’m working on a campus for the school where I’ll earn my degree. And by coincidence, I’m assigned to work on the building that will house the construction technology program. That’s a pretty cool experience.”
ACC broke ground on the Round Rock Campus in February 2009. The first phase of construction, which will accommodate 5,000 students, comprises five buildings and about 275,000 square feet. That’s almost a third of the size of the seven existing ACC District campuses combined.
“I’ve been in construction for almost 25 years, and this is the most gratifying project I’ve done,” says Overton. “This isn’t just some office building. What people do and learn here will stay with them forever.”
“She has her master’s degree in nursing, and it just inspired me,” says Overton. “She made me want to go back to school and get a degree.”
Overton, who was self-employed in residential remodeling at the time, began to see the professional benefits of a degree in addition to the personal satisfaction he would gain. Overton enrolled at ACC in fall 2008, and from the start, college felt like a natural fit. Even though he’d spent decades working in construction, Overton says he learned something new in each class.
In spring 2009, one of Overton’s professors passed along his resume to SpawGlass. Within a couple of weeks, SpawGlass offered Overton a part-time position. Before long, he was on the job full time while continuing to take classes at ACC.
“I haven’t had a bad day out there, and that’s saying a lot,” says Overton. “We’ve dealt with 100-degree days and pouring rain. My first day, I was out on the site for 14 hours. I came home muddy and wet – and I loved every bit of it.”
Overton works as a rodman, an assistant to the field engineers. When he started at the Round Rock site, he measured elevations, worked on layouts for support piers, and ensured subcontractors drilled in the correct spots. In the past year, his role has expanded, and now he is part of the team readying the building for final walk-throughs.
“We have learned that attitude and desire to do a good job are key to success on any project,” says Pat Williams, SpawGlass president for the Austin region. “When SpawGlass hired John, we understood he had an eager, positive attitude, but we soon learned that he also acquired great skills from his education at ACC. He has applied these skills and attitude well and has contributed to the successes we are enjoying in Round Rock.”
Phase I construction is now approximately 85 percent complete. Crews have moved into completing detail work, such as installing tile, applying last coats of paint, and planting trees. They’re also putting up the signature symbol of the campus – a structure resembling Austin’s moon towers that will be topped with a star.
“Our team is working six days a week, and the progress is amazing to see,” says Paul Mason, ACC’s project manager. “This is the largest initial build-out the college has ever done.”
Phase I will provide ample space for a full range of instructional programs and support services. Offerings will include both core curriculum and workforce education – such as automotive technology, computer science, welding, and health sciences programs. Students will be able to access academic advising, a testing center, admissions, and career services.
“This is just the beginning,” says Mason. “Eventually ACC Round Rock will have 10 buildings, with a total of about 575,000 square feet, and it will be home to more than 11,000 students.”
John Overton hopes to be one of those students in the future. While he has finished the courses he needs for his associate degree, he is now setting his sights on a bachelor’s – and he hopes to take some transferable courses at the Round Rock Campus.
“That will be the ultimate reward,” Overton says. “I’m looking forward to the day when I’m sitting in a classroom here and can reflect on all the hard work we’ve done to build this campus – and all the hard work I’ve done to earn my degree. I know I’ll look back and say it was all definitely worth it.”
Registration for fall classes at ACC Round Rock and other campuses is now under way for both current and new students.
For detailed updates on the progress of ACC Round Rock Campus construction, please click here.
posted in: ACC Newsroom, Banner Stories, Round Rock Campus Updates