Skip to main content

Six months after graduating from Northern Kentucky University, Stephen Henke is back on campus working as a field engineer for Turner Construction on the Health Innovation Center Project and Founders Hall renovation. 

Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko

“Our professors want you to learn as much as you can. They really pushed hands-on experience…”

By Jayna Morris
NKU Marketing + Communications

After Stephen Henke (’15) graduated last December, returning to Northern Kentucky University’s campus wasn’t the first thing on his mind. But now, just months later, Henke is a field engineer is working for Turner Construction—the company responsible for the renovation of NKU’s second-oldest building, Founders Hall—and is helping with the creation of NKU’s Health Innovation Center.

Henke graduated with a bachelor’s degree in construction management and has been in the Army Reserves for the last three years. During his time on campus as a student, Henke was part of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, the Construction Management Association, and Mechanical Contractors Association of America.

Henke entered into a co-op with Turner Construction while he was still a student and worked for one year before being hired full time.

Although he says that receiving training before graduation was important, he attributes most of his success to his construction management professors at NKU.

“Our professors want you to learn as much as you can. They really pushed hands-on experience,” Henke says. “All of my professors were construction managers or civil engineers. One of my mechanical engineering professors works for a contractor—that works under Turner—during the day, and he teaches at night. He has that hands-on real-world experience.”

Henke is putting that hands-on experience to work on the Health Innovation Center. A typical day begins at 7 a.m. when he arrives on campus. He prepares for his daily meeting with all of the contractor’s foremen to coordinate where everyone will work each day. From there, he walks the job site, tracking construction progress and ensuring subcontractors stay on schedule. Henke also manages the payroll system and insurance program and uses software to forecast a budget for workforce and supplies each month.

In other words, he’s doing exactly what he dreamt he’d be doing after graduation.

“This is what I wanted to do when I started with Turner,” Henke says. “I kind of transitioned into this role when I started my co-op. I had fulfilled my requirements by the time I started with Turner, but I wanted to get experience. I was really fortunate with [them] because I was able to get real-world experience and had the opportunity to be trained before I even graduated.”