First published: September 29, 2017
URL to live article:

Robert Steele, a senior in construction management technology from Lapel, Indiana, was introduced by the Purdue Student Union Board as the 2017 Homecoming King on Saturday (September 23).

Steele, who is drum major for the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, a founder and housing manager of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, and secretary of Sigma Lambda Chi Honors Society, works to stay focused on his studies while being very involved on campus.

“My parents always told me to work first and play second,” he said. “I use this strategy in my everyday life, especially when it comes to my academics. I’m here at Purdue to graduate with a degree and start a career. If someone stays true to ‘work then fun,’ they will find themselves with a lot of free time and might find themselves at the top of their classes.”

A home remodeling project done by Steele’s father as well as family trips which included travel through construction zones helped inspire him to major in construction management technology.

“I always enjoyed going on road trips and seeing miles of road construction with all the orange cones and the large equipment they used for the project,” Steele said. “I remember the same thing being done to the road right outside my home and thinking I wanted to do that. When filling out my Purdue application, I saw the word construction and I did not have to think twice.”

Steele took advantage of three internship opportunities with E&B Paving. “Each internship gave me an understanding of what to expect when I graduate,” he said. “At my most recent internship in southern Indiana and Louisville, I worked with the bridge division of the company. I created submittals for work to be done and ordered material for projects. I was eager to learn from veteran project managers.”

Steele said he will remember the relationships he built with students, faculty, colleagues, and construction industry recruiters far more than 7:30 AM classes or night exams.

“It isn’t always popular to ask or answer questions in the classroom,” he said, “but you will gain so much more and the professor will remember you.”

Purdue and the Polytechnic Institute offer an “abundance of clubs and organizations,” said Steele. “Getting involved on campus is key to building relationships and gaining experience.”