ASU grad builds his future — and yours — with construction management

December 10, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Almost as far back as he can remember, Nicholas Akkerman was drawn to mathematics and liked discovering how things are designed and built, especially homes. Nicholas Akkerman Nicholas Akkerman Download Full Image

That combination of interests made Akkerman’s choice of a college major and university an easy one.

A highly ranked construction management program and a location in a growing region that offers plentiful opportunities for launching a career in the field brought him almost 2,000 miles from his home in Minnesota to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

Flash forward to fall semester 2018, a few months before his graduation, Akkerman accepted a full-time position as an assistant project manager with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Maracay Homes, a leading homebuilder in the state.

His next big goal is to get the necessary professional experience he will need to someday start his own custom homebuilding business.

Akkerman envisions running a company with “architectural, construction and interior design services all under one roof,” with a focus on building homes that provide energy efficiency, smart-home technologies and other advanced sustainability features.

He plans to further prepare himself for that venture by earning a master’s degree in architecture sometime in the next several years.

Akkerman, who is graduating with summa cum laude honors, said he will pursue those aspirations to start a business and earn a graduate degree with the same attitude he advises other students to adopt in striving to establish careers.

“Never quit. Follow your dreams even when others say they’re impossible. Hard work, determination and a mindset to succeed will pay off,” he said. “Set goals and aim high. And remember, happiness is the highest level of success.”

Akkerman earned support to work toward his academic success at ASU from a Vinnell Foundation Scholarship and the Del E. Webb Memorial Scholarship.

He also benefitted from experiences in ASU’s student chapter of the National Association of Home Builders, for which he has served as vice president this year.

He counts among his biggest achievements at ASU the success of the NAHB chapter in a student competition at the International Builders’ Show earlier this year, when he and his teammates joined in a ceremony to award the Del E. Webb School of Construction a $100,000 grant from the National Housing Endowment.

The grant will support the hiring of a professor of practice to establish a program for students who want to pursue studies in residential construction management.  

Outside of academic work and related activities during his undergraduate years, Akkerman designed and built custom furniture for himself, his family and friends, and found time for snowboarding and wakeboarding.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Mechanical engineering grad excelled in supporting his peers

December 10, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Eric Mannix’s desire to help others has been clear throughout his time at Arizona State University. From selecting his major to his extracurricular activities, Mannix’s proclivity for leadership and problem-solving led him to not only excel in mechanical engineering, but to support others along the way. Eric Mannix Eric Mannix Download Full Image

Math and science had always been easy for Mannix, so when his brother suggested engineering as a major, he decided to give it a shot.

“I had the plan that if I did not like the first engineering class, MAE 212: Mechanics and Dynamics, then I would change my major,” Mannix said. “But I had the best teacher. And even though the class was tough, I enjoyed it every single day.”

Mannix enjoyed the classes not only for the challenges they brought, but also because of the impact engineering makes in people’s everyday lives.

“There is no argument that engineering is going to change the world,” Mannix said. “Engineering offers the problem solving that the world needs to move toward the future.”

While studying in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Mannix has supported his peers by offering tutoring assistance. He says some of the most rewarding moments of his undergraduate experience have come from running into students on campus who tell him he is the reason they’re now getting an A in an engineering class.

Along with technical help, Mannix also offers encouragement to students who may find the demands of engineering particularly challenging.

“It is ok to fail. It is not the end of the world if you fail a test,” he says. “As long as you are able to bounce back and give your best work effort you will be fine in the future.”

During his freshman and sophomore year, Mannix was active in the Residence Hall Association, serving as vice president of Palo Verde East, the former residential community for Fulton Schools students, as president of the Engineering Residential Community, and as the director of Leadership Development. He also held leadership positions in Gameineers and Anime Weekly!, where he helped bring students together to meet friends with similar interests.

Mannix’s efforts earned him a scholarship from the Leadership Scholarship Program and helped him receive a “Rising Star” award from the Residence Hall Association.

After graduation, Mannix is participating in the 4+1 program to study materials science and engineering and he plans to one day work as a design or manufacturing engineer.

“Manufacturing is the closest between engineering and the actual consumers,” he said. “I want to help out with day-to-day life for everyone and I think working at a manufacturing plant will help that.”

Lanelle Strawder

Content & PR Manager, Communications, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering