5 Ways Simpson Strong-Tie Collaborates with Construction Students


We’re not only focused on building strong structures, we’re focused on building strong relationships with the next generation of architects, engineers, builders and trade professionals who will help shape our communities. With the shortage of skilled laborers and fewer young people joining the trades, we believe it’s important to create and cultivate relationships that have a positive impact on the future of our industry.

To do that, Simpson Strong-Tie has appointed a select group – aptly titled Outreach Coordinators – who are dedicated to creating relationships with young people who are interested in our industry. Here are five ways that Simpson Strong-Tie and this passionate team are helping the next generation of engineering and construction professionals plan their careers.

1. Mentoring

According to the National Mentoring Partnership, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships for America’s youth, one in three young people will be without a mentor that connects them to personal and professional growth, development and opportunities.

At their core, Outreach Coordinators like Jim Mattison, Alan Hanson and Rick Reid are mentors. With decades of combined experience – many of those years with Simpson Strong-Tie – they’ve been through nearly every up and down that comes with being a construction professional in what can be a sometimes underappreciated field. This knowledge serves the students they interact with daily, whether it’s advising them on a rewarding career path during a job fair, helping to manage an employment search, identifying research interests, or putting heads together on how to solve a particularly challenging project. 

2. Networking

With the rise of advanced degrees and increased educational avenues like online learning and professional certifications, it’s not always what you know that can make or break a career. More than ever, no matter the field, it’s whom you know that can pay dividends in the long run.

For those of us old enough to remember, we used to have these things called rolodexes. It had everybody’s information. You actually had to pick up the phone or take the time to write a handwritten letter to someone. Nowadays, we’re all so connected via e-mail, text messages, or social media like LinkedIn, it’s even easier to build and grow that network.

“Making connections is essential to not only entering, but advancing in the industry,” said Jim Mattison, Outreach Coordinator for Simpson Strong-Tie. “We work to help students and young professionals discover ways in which they can connect and even introduce them to industry experts and influencers to help begin this important step.”  

3. Professional Organizations

A great way for young professionals and graduating students to grow their networks and actively participate in their field is to get involved with a professional organization. Not only does membership entail valuable connections to other industry pros, but also organizations often provide professional certifications that look great on a resume and hands-on learning opportunities. Simpson Strong-Tie works with many of the nation’s top organizations, including the National Association of Home Builders and the Structural Engineers Association and their various local branches to provide educational and training opportunities, hosting events, and more.

“Joining an organization not only benefits the young professional, but it really helps to drive the industry as a whole,” said Rick Reid, Outreach Coordinator at Simpson Strong-Tie. “Whether it’s guiding research, generating important conversations, or advocating for the industry as a whole, the combined knowledge and resources that these groups offer are endless and nearly immeasurable.” 

4. Events

Events are another great way to connect with young people. “The thing we enjoy most about working with the next generation is getting out of the office and working with them. Anyone can send an e-mail and a few product samples. We focus on making connections in person with students and faculty,” said Alan Hanson, Outreach Coordinator at Simpson Strong-Tie.

One great example of the events Simpson Strong-Tie participates in is the Building Connections Symposium at Washington State University. As part of the continued collaboration between the University and Simpson Strong-Tie, which includes sponsoring faculty fellowships and industry research, company representatives hold a hands-on workshop with 50 engineering, construction, and architecture students at the new Simpson Strong-Tie Research and Testing Laboratory on campus. “From product installations and testing to industry speakers, we love working with upcoming professionals to build structures with innovative materials and rigorous testing methods,” added Mattison. 

5. Projects

Hands-on learning is often the best type of learning when it comes to the construction industry. Throughout each year, Simpson Strong-Tie works with organizations and schools to sponsor built projects. For several years, the company’s manufacturing branches have sponsored schools and teams participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The collegiate competition pits more than 10 schools against each other to design and build a full-sized, solar-powered home. The intense project has teams creating their innovative houses for years, culminating in a judging process that evaluates cost-effective design, innovation balanced with market potential, water and energy efficiency, energy production and time-of-use energy, and communication strategies.

Whether it’s interacting with students interested in the construction and engineering fields or working alongside young professionals to help them build a high-performance home, all of us in the construction industry can benefit from working better together to attract more talent and to develop smarter building solutions that ultimately lead to safer, stronger structures.