Gale “Cork” M. Peterson, Jr. (’66 construction engineering) is a visionary principal of Peterson Contractors, Inc. (PCI), a nationally-regarded, Iowa-based company that has innovated ground improvement installation and heavy-highway construction since 1964.
As an Iowa State engineering student, Peterson became the first to choose the heavy-highway option within construction engineering. Upon graduation, he received an Army ROTC commission as second lieutenant and served in the US Army Corps of Engineers as a port construction company officer in Vietnam.
Peterson returned to Reinbeck, Iowa, and worked with colleague Cordell Peterson to build and grow PCI – from one used bulldozer to a large fleet of heavy construction equipment and trucks and from searching for local projects to working on thousands nationwide. PCI has also been a pioneer in using new technologies, such as Geopier foundation systems.
Peterson held statewide and national leadership roles in the Associated General Contractors. He is a member of the AGCI inaugural Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement status.
Peterson truly embodies the Cyclone spirit, including a couple of years spent as CY the mascot as a student. He was awarded the Cardinal Key in 1966; today, his ISU license plate says CY65. Peterson has chaired the ConE Industry Advisory Council and was inducted into the ConE Hall of Fame.
In 2021, he generously established the Peterson Endowment for Geo-Construction Innovation, inspiring academic advancement and research that will impact the field for many years to come.
Peterson married Becky Hess in 1973. She passed away in 2019. Their son Todd and his wife, Sandra, have two children, Vanessa and Caleb.