Alumni Spotlight: Jay Kohler

A degree from CEE can take you many places, including the happiest place on Earth! As a project manager for Barton Malow, Jay Kohler (BSE CE ’09) works on projects for Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and other Orlando attractions.

Kohler, a third-generation U-M graduate, says his courses in construction management were especially helpful in preparing for his career. He says he also benefited from participating in the University of Michigan Engineering Council.

“It gets you involved in planning and managing for a larger group. You learn that the way you interact, send emails and present yourself is important,” Kohler says of being part of student organizations.

Kohler started out with Barton Malow as a student intern. His advice to current students is “get the real-world experience through internships as soon as possible.”

After his internship, Kohler began working for Barton Malow in estimating. “We would visit different offices to make bids, and there was an exciting sense of accomplishment when you finally submitted your bid,” Kohler says of his first position.

Six years later, Kohler finds excitement working on projects such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This family-friendly roller coaster ride was completed in May 2014. He is currently working on a new attraction in Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando.

When asked what he enjoys most about his work, Kohler said, “Every day is a new challenge and the answers are not just sitting there. I enjoy the never-ending problem solving.”

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