College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Cork Peterson named to Iowa State Construction Engineering Hall of Fame

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Cork Peterson, BSConE’66

Gale M. “Cork” Peterson, Jr. (BSConE’66), a longtime supporter and collaborator with the Iowa State construction engineering program, was recently named to the Iowa State University Construction Engineering Hall of Fame.

Peterson joined his business partner, Cordell Peterson, in 1968 to co-own Peterson Contractors, Inc. (PCI), after graduating from Iowa State and serving two years as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since then he and Cordell have built PCI as a regional highway construction firm and a national specialty contractor that performs all types of heavy civil construction, except asphalt and concrete paving. His company was instrumental in improving construction efficiencies of the GEOPIER ground improvement system, an internationally preferred method of building foundation systems.

Throughout his career at PCI, Cork has served on the Iowa State Construction Engineering Industry Advisory Council, including chairman from 2005 to 2008. He also has been involved with the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Iowa in many capacities, including president in 1978. He is past chairman of AGC of America’s highway and transportation division.

“If you were to say ‘Cork’ to anyone in the Iowa construction industry, they would know who you’re talking about,” says Charles Jahren, W.A. Klinger Teaching Professor and professor-in-charge of the Iowa State construction engineering program.  Jahren continues to say that Cork’s personable personality has allowed him to network with everyone in the construction industry in Iowa and nationally. Jahren met Cork in 1993 when he joined the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering as assistant professor.

Robert Cramer (BSConE’90), past AGC of Iowa president and president/chief administrative officer at Cramer & Associates, says Cork was “very influential” in getting him involved with AGC of Iowa as a way of giving back to construction industry. Cramer currently works with Cork on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program, which allows small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals increased participation in state and local procurement.

Cork was officially recognized for his Hall of Fame honor April 26 at the Construction Engineering-AGC of America Iowa State Student Chapter Spring Banquet. A photo and summary of him are placed on the Construction Engineering Hall of Fame wall near the Town Engineering Building northeast entrance on Iowa State University campus.