Hard Hat Ceremony Highlight of Annual Rinker School Welcome Reception

August 31, 2023
By: Tatiana Rodriguez

Highlighted by the annual hard hat ceremony for the incoming junior class, the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management held their annual Welcome Reception this past Thursday. The overflowing room of new students heard a welcome message from Rinker School Director Dr. Robert F. Cox, along with presentations on the history of the school, the plethora of internship opportunities and graduate programs that are offered and study abroad opportunities across the globe.

“I hope students get a sense of the history and legacy that Rinker has and the importance of networking within the college as well as with alumni,” Cox said. “I wanted them to know the welcoming family environment is what makes Rinker so special with our alumni base.”

The event, including dinner for all involved, was sponsored by the Weitz Company. Chuck Congdon, the project executive at Weitz, said that the company has been involved with Rinker for a long time, with a lot of their employees being graduates from the program. They recruit from the college and will be part of this Thursday’s Rinker Career Fair.

Near the end of the reception, the incoming juniors, known affectionately as “J1’s,” received their Rinker hard hats and vests. The Class of 2027, as well as new graduate students, received free shirts as well.

After devouring plates loaded with delicious Chick-fil-A, the newest batch of Rinker students gathered in the hallways to learn about the different student organizations within the school. Several clubs participated, including Gator Safety Professionals (GSP), the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), the Green Building Club and the UF Student Chapter of the Associate Builders and Contractors (ABC). Students were able to walk around and learn about some of the opportunities that each club offers after the main presentation.

Dana Steel, the vice-president of GSP, explained that the club “aims to educate students about the importance of safety in construction” and how to help “control, prevent, and ultimately eliminate hazards in the industry.”

Danny Castaneda, the president of the UF ABC Chapter and a senior at Rinker, was at the event to encourage incoming students to get involved.

Castaneda said the purpose of ABC is to help develop members professionally by providing exposure to companies for employment after graduation, socially by connecting with peers both inside and outside of the classroom, and educationally through site visits.

The Concrete Team also had a booth set up at the event. Castaneda is a part of this competition team and said that they act as concrete contractors and work throughout the semester to create a proposal and design for a structure that they later simulate building. For example, last year they simulated building a 20-story building in Charlotte.

Students from all these clubs will be in full force at the aforementioned Rinker Career Fair Thursday, where 100-plus companies have signed up to recruit them and maintain the school’s 100-percent job placement rate.

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