Academic Excellence Award

A Familiar Path

Academic Excellence Award — Kevin Zimmermann, Electrical Construction & Maintenance

Kevin Zimmermann is no stranger to the construction industry. With a father and grandfather in the trades, you might say that it’s in his blood. But the soon to be graduate of the Electrical Construction & Maintenance program did not always intend to follow such a familiar path.

“I wanted to work for the Department of Natural Resources,” the avid outdoorsman said. “I initially took classes in Environmental Biology at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minn. after high school with the goal of being a Conservation Officer.”

But goals and circumstances can change, and Zimmermann did not end up taking that route. He found himself working a few different jobs: running a landscaping company, working for his dad’s construction company, and bartending at a local brewery.

It wasn’t until COVID-19 struck and Zimmermann had been laid off from his job that he found himself looking for a change.

“My dad runs his own construction company, and I have worked with him on-and-off for years,” Zimmermann said. “But there was one project that we were working on — remodeling my brother’s house — where I really started to pay attention to all of the different trades and the craftsmanship that go into building or remodeling a home and the fun that you can have.”

That’s when he decided he wanted to try something new and challenging. With encouragement from his dad, Zimmermann started looking into the electrical field.

“Once I started researching what it would take to become an electrician and what the best route would be, I found Dunwoody.”

Zimmermann notes he was no stranger to Dunwoody, either. His grandfather is an alumnus of the HVAC & Sheet Metal program.

“After a quick tour of campus, and knowing the reputation that it holds, I was sold on going here,” he said.

Zimmermann admits that school had never come easy to him, but after starting classes and spending time completing hands-on projects in the Colleges shops and labs, he felt a change. It did not take long before he found himself really investing in his studies and pushing himself to learn more.

He has enjoyed learning from people who have first-hand experience in the field — current and former trades people who have real, in-depth knowledge of what they are teaching. And taking classes in the residential house, a three-story model home located on campus, offered him a real-life, hands-on environment that he would not have gotten in a traditional classroom setting.

“Kevin is a leader in the program and respected by his peers,” said Mauricio Guevara, Senior Instructor for Electrical Construction & Maintenance. “I’ve been fortunate to have him as a student and a student worker. He is dedicated to whatever project he is working on and demonstrates perseverance and hard work.”

The dedication and enthusiasm Zimmermann showed in and out of the classroom helped him earn the Academic Excellence Award for Construction Sciences & Building Technology, a distinction he is extremely proud of.

“This award is a tremendous honor. it proves that hard work can really pay off,” he said, also noting appreciation to his dad for his guidance on this journey.

“Not only did he encourage me to set new goals for myself and take on the challenge of starting a new career in the electrical field — but watching him create and grow his own construction company has been a huge inspiration.”

He hopes to take what he has learned throughout his time at Dunwoody — leadership skills, work ethic, and real-world experience — and channel that into a successful career in the industry. Maybe one day he will even open his own electrical contracting company.