College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Zachary Eaton: Outstanding senior in construction engineering

Zachary Eaton


Urbandale, Iowa 

Clubs and activities 

Delta Upsilon Fraternity 

Valuable hands-on learning in class 

The most valuable projects I worked on were both capstone projects. For the Design-Build project, it was great to be able to put everything I have learned during my time at Iowa State into one final project. We were able to create our own design of a building and then take that design to price and schedule it out to see what it would take to construct it. For our Hard-Bid capstone, we were able to mock-bid two projects being bid on in the community. This was exciting because it gave us the opportunity to go through the complete process and work within the industry as we will be in our careers.  

Out-of-classroom engineering experience 

The most valuable experience I had outside of the classroom would be my co-op with Ryan Companies. I was able to get hands-on experience of the actual work I would be doing as a Project Manager. During my time there, I was able to manage my own bid packages and be the point of contact for my own subcontractors. This was a lot of responsibility that allowed me to learn way more than I would have expected from any internship. I was able to use what I learned from my co-op in the classroom, and it gave me a head start to my career.      

Most influential mentor 

The professor that most impacted the way I approach my career and life would be Cliff Plymesser, teaching CONE 340. As a professor who currently works in the industry, he was extremely helpful in teaching us how to use our engineering degrees to be better in our careers even if it isn’t design or engineering. During his class, he recommends the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, I ended up reading this book and have tried to incorporate some of the lessons into my life.  

Best memory 

Some of my best memories at Iowa State are simply getting to know and work with the people in my class. We went through all the same things and helped each other out along the way during the long hours spent in the computer lab. The relationships gained from working with them are going to last much longer than my time at Iowa State. 

Plans after graduation 

My plan after graduation is to work as a project engineer for Ryan Companies down in Dallas, Texas. 

Making my mark on the world 

As an engineer, I want to ensure that anything I go onto build is safe, exciting and bettering the community it is located in. I personally want to be able to look back on my career and physically see what I have accomplished through the projects I have worked on.  

Engineering like a Cyclone Engineer 

As an Iowa State Engineer, we are taught how to solve problems within a team. I think the team portion is most important because the work we will be doing is not individual, whereas some engineering colleges can create a competitive environment where engineers are fighting to come up with the best innovations. At Iowa State, we are constantly communicating and collaborating to develop the best solution to any problem presented.