Construction on his mind

Construction on his mind
CSM major graduates from Lego bricks to rollercoasters and airports
Wyatt (Kin) Sanders-Evans was invited to tour Air Force Two during his internship.
Wyatt was invited to tour Air Force Two during his internship.

By Helena Nguyen and Chip Tuson

For those born and raised in Ohio, many might aspire to get out and live by the beach. Wyatt (Kin) Sanders-Evans, however, did the opposite. As a native of Columbia, South Carolina, he was in for quite the treat when he decided to attend The Ohio State University.  

“I traded my flip-flops for snow boots,” said Sanders-Evans.

Sanders-Evans started his college career at Charleston Southern University, where he received the World of Business Award as a freshman. Soon after, he transferred to Ohio State and found his true connection in the construction systems management (CSM) program at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. 

Wyatt (Kin) Sanders-Evans (left) and Andre'as Williams, program coordinator with Ohio State’s Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male.

He said he loves the specialization of his major and the connections he has made with his fellow students.

Sanders-Evans said he’s always had an interest in construction and developing. Growing up, he enjoyed putting together Lego bricks, and as a fifth-grader, he discovered the ultimate introduction to his future career goals: RollerCoaster Tycoon, an Atari Windows PC video game. 

He said after being particularly fond of amusement parks due to growing up near one, “this was the perfect outlet for my inner creativity.” 

Sanders-Evans, who is now a fourth-year student, said he hopes to use his degree to one day intermingle his childhood passion and career path by participating in the construction of theme parks such as Walt Disney World or Sea World, or even working for a company such as Cedar Fair, L.P., an Ohio-based company that owns and operates 13 amusement parks, two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park, and four hotels in the United States and Canada.

“I used to design and build my own theme parks every day,” he said. “I think it’s kind of humorous, how life plays out.” 

When not in class, working, or visiting an amusement park, Sanders-Evans spends his free time shuffle skating, producing music, cooking, and volunteering. He is also active in Ohio State’s Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, which affords him the opportunity to volunteer at The Academy for Urban Scholars in Columbus and the Columbus City Preparatory School for Boys

“Some will value your beliefs and extend a helping hand. The right place, right time happens all the time.”Wyatt (Kin) Sanders-Evans

Sanders-Evans also served as a mentor and role model for at-risk young men, emphasizing the importance of showing compassion to one another and encouraging them to take pride in their heritage, as he does.

“I expressed to the younger African American males to make sure they maintain high self-esteem and positive self-identifies, despite the stereotypes and negative images of black males that are portrayed in popular news and media outlets,” Sanders-Evans said.

The CSM major allows students to specialize in the management and operation of the business and technological aspects of the construction industry. It is designed to help students develop the managerial skills necessary to prepare for careers in a range of industry sectors, including residential, commercial, or heavy construction. Graduates of the CSM program have gone on to work as project managers, estimators, project engineers, superintendents, and other roles in industry leadership.

CFAES currently has 260 students enrolled in the program, and typically, 60–80 students graduate from it each year. The average starting salary for CFAES graduates with the CSM major is $56,174, according to 2016–2017 graduation data.

Students in the CSM program complete an internship or co-op during their time at Ohio State. 

Shannetta Griffin and Wyatt (Kin) Sanders-Evans at the ConRAC groundbreaking ceremony.

Sanders-Evans is approaching his one-year anniversary of interning at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, where he works in the planning and engineering department. He said he’s gained a multitude of industry-related experiences while actively participating on several projects throughout his time at the airport.

Currently, he is aiding in the construction of ConRAC, a $140 million airport development that will house rental car operations and garage parking. During his first months, he was able to work alongside an Ohio State CSM alumnus on tenant work permits and the installation of the PGA Tour Grill, a new dining area in the airport primarily focused on health foods.

However, Sanders-Evans said his favorite memory during his co-op was when he and his coworkers were honored with an invitation from Vice President Mike Pence to take a tour of Air Force Two, the vice president’s airplane.  

Sanders-Evans said he appreciates the amazing opportunities he’s had at the airport and the lessons and experiences he’s enjoyed during his time there. He said he’s learned patience, cooperation, and the importance of quality leadership, communication, and teamwork at all levels. 

Sanders-Evans thanks his family, friends, and home church, the First Nazareth Baptist Church, for supporting him throughout his life.

He also offers some upbeat advice to those he mentors, saying, “Some will value your beliefs and extend a helping hand. The right place, right time happens all the time.”