Class of 2019 Success Stories

BGSU inspires dual major in construction management, architecture and environmental design

Lauren Schmenk 'likes seeing things as a whole'

By Colleen Rerucha '06

Inspiration can come from anything.

Just ask Lauren Schmenk, who let inspiration guide her journey at Bowling Green State University, even when it came from the most unlikely of places, surprising even her.

“If we would go on vacation, my dad would find at least one historical place that we could visit and they’d tell a story about the building and how it came to be,” Schmenk said. “You get into buildings and see old HVAC units and boilers. And I don’t know why, but I think it’s so cool.”

Drawn to historic buildings, Schmenk, who attended Ottawa-Glandorf High School in Ottawa, Ohio, was determined to pursue a degree in architecture. She learned of BGSU’s architecture and environmental design program through a family friend and visited campus on what would be her first, and only, college visit.

“I grew up in a small town and I didn’t want to go anywhere that was too large,” Schmenk said. “BGSU made it effortless for me. I can’t image going anywhere else."

Not long into her freshman year she was inspired, yet again, by a construction course that caught her attention on the first day of class.

“Our instructor literally told us to pick up tools and make a floor,” Schmenk said.

Schmenk quickly realized her interest in construction management and decided on a dual major. 

“I like being up and moving and doing something,” Schmenk said. “Construction management is such a great option for me because you can be in the office one day, and out on the site the next.”

Schmenk, who had a co-op with Alvada Construction in Findlay, Ohio, also liked the team leadership aspect of construction management.

“You learn how to work with people, not just materials,” Schmenk said. “It’s more of yes, you’re pouring concrete, but you’re pouring concrete with crews. How you handle your crews and how you speak with your crews greatly changes how your job site can run.”

Schmenk took a full schedule of classes every semester and completed three cooperative education experiences, getting real-world knowledge in both the architecture and construction management industries.

“I like seeing things as a whole,” she said. “If you decide to be an architect and work at an architecture firm, you’re forever going to be interacting with contractors. And if you want to be a contractor, you’re forever going to be talking to architects.”

It is that connection between construction management and architecture that led the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering CTAAE to establish the School of the Built Environment, featuring an industry-focused collaborative curriculum that emphasizes the synergy between both fields.

“Students in construction management and architecture learn about both industries through the School of the Built Environment,” said Dr. Jennie J. Gallimore, dean of the CTAAE. “Lauren’s determination and hard work to fully immerse herself in both fields is a remarkable accomplishment.”

When it comes to her future, Schmenk will continue to let inspiration guide her plans and is already seeing the advantage of her dual-industry background on the job site, particularly with team management.

“I can explain both sides, from design to build, to the teams I’m working with and everyone understands it better.” Schmenk said.