Opportunity plus field work training

Opportunity+ welcomes fourth cohort into free civil engineering career training program 

January 25, 2023

The targeted workforce training and development program aims to diversify the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry. 

Design and consulting firm WSB today announced that the company has launched its fourth Opportunity+ cohort. Opportunity+ is a workforce training and development program designed to prepare participants for long-term careers in the civil engineering industry. The program, first launched in January 2020, is a free and fast-paced training course led by experts from throughout the AEC industry. This year’s cohort has 17 participants enrolled.  

From January through March, program participants will receive accelerated training through evening sessions. The flexible schedule allows participants to continue working during the day while completing the hands-on program. Upon completion of the program, participants will be prepared for careers as engineering technicians, survey crew members, construction materials technicians and site inspectors – all high-demand positions in civil engineering.  

“This is our largest cohort to date, and I’m thrilled that we’re making real progress in building opportunities for all people interested in civil engineering.”

Bret Weiss, WSB President and CEO

“This is our largest cohort to date, and I’m thrilled that we’re making real progress in building opportunities for all people interested in civil engineering,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and CEO. “We are committed to actionable change and to diversifying our industry. While many companies have a focus on diversity and inclusion, we’re creating real opportunity and it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch our participants build their careers both inside the walls of WSB and with our partners.” 

In 2023, Opportunity+ expanded recruitment efforts into the veteran community with 56% of this year’s cohort identifying as veterans. The veteran community is another untapped talent market with a diverse population. Many veterans have skills that lend themselves well to civil engineering careers.  

New this year is the addition of Opportunity+ hiring partners including Frattalone Companies, a construction firm specializing in civil site construction, James R. Hill, Inc., a full-service land development consulting firm, GeoWall Designs LLC, a retaining wall design company and Westwood Professional Services, a multi-disciplined land surveying and engineering company.  Expanding and growing the program outside of WSB has been a long-term goal.  In its fourth year, the program’s curriculum was at a place where it made sense to expand its reach across the industry to broaden hiring options for participants.  

“Joining Opportunity+ as a hiring partner made complete sense,” said Nick Frattalone, Frattalone Companies’ Chief Executive Officer. “In today’s labor market, finding skilled workers is a challenge across our industry. The types of skills that are learned through the program are not only relevant to supporting our business operations, but also represent our commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts.” 

Since the program’s inception, 17 participants have graduated. Opportunity+ was built to provide a pathway into the AEC industry for those that are generally underrepresented in it, specifically women and people of color. The intent of the program is to reduce and remove some of the barriers to a successful career in civil engineering.  

“The current demand for civil engineering technicians far exceeds the available talent, and many qualified candidates don’t have the time or resources to complete formal education in this field,” said Julie Thiel, WSB’s vice president of human resources. “This year, we expanded our recruiting efforts and felt strongly about welcoming more partners into the fold. Building a more diverse workforce is not just one firm’s responsibility, but rather our entire industry’s and I’m looking forward to the future of this fast-growing program.” 

Opportunity+ officially launched on January 24. The intent is to connect every cohort participant interested in pursuing a career in the industry to full-time positions following the program. They will be invited to interview for open positions with WSB and its hiring partners that can lead to greater responsibility and lifelong careers. 

WSB hosts graduation for free civil engineering career training program

May 21, 2020

Design and consulting firm WSB today announced that the company’s first Opportunity+ cohort graduated in a virtual ceremony. The program, Opportunity+, is a new workforce training and development program designed to prepare participants for long-term careers in the civil engineering industry. Opportunity+ launched in January of this year and is a free and fast-paced training course led by experts at WSB. Nine cohort members completed the first Opportunity+ training class and received their certificates during the ceremony.

“I am honored to have played in role in introducing the program participants to the world of civil engineering,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and CEO. “The communities we live and work in are far more diverse than our industry. Opportunity+ is just one of the ways we are working towards building a workforce that looks more like the communities we serve. I am so proud of our graduates and their ability to master the skills needed for a successful career in the AEC industry.”

From January through April, program participants received accelerated training through evening and weekend sessions. The flexible schedule allowed participants to continue working during the day while completing the hands-on program. Today, Opportunity+ participants are prepared for careers as surveyors – a high-demand position in civil engineering.

 “The future of the Opportunity+ program is bright,” said Laura Rescorla, WSB engineer and program manager of Opportunity+. “We have plans to make a couple of tweaks and are currently exploring expansion opportunities for the 2021 cohort. I am so impressed with the participants and their dedication to growing their careers and taking a chance on something new.”

WSB has hired two program participants and has extended offers to several others.  The firm is working with hiring partners to help participants find their place in the industry and begin new career paths.

Program partners include the City of Minneapolis, CareerForce, Center for Economic Inclusion, EMERGE Community Development, Hennepin County and the City of Saint Paul.

Best nine of 2019

As we forge ahead into the new year, we also acknowledge and reflect on our past accomplishments.

Here are our best nine moments and industry wins of 2019.

9.Diversifying our industry through Opportunity+. Opportunity+ is part of a larger diversity and inclusion initiative centered around recruiting, welcoming, supporting, retaining and building a diverse workforce.

8.WSB Career Cards.
WSB recently launched a series of collectible career cards to introduce young boys and girls to the extraordinary world of engineering and STEM career possibilities.

7.WSB welcomes Chris Petree, Jody Martinson, Shelley Hanson, Klay Eckles to the team.
We made several strategic hires to help bolster our operations and better serve our clients in 2019.

6.Project award wins from APWA, CEAM, ACEC-MN.
WSB was honored to received project awards from the American Public Works Association, City Engineers Association of Minnesota and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota.

5.Celebrating 24 years.
Our President and CEO, Bret Weiss, reflected on the past 24 years at WSB.

4.Denver office expansion.
WSB opened a new Denver office to our expand region-wide services.

3.The launch of FisH2O.
Finding an eco-friendly solution to the disposal of invasive species.

2.Austin office expansion.
WSB opened a new Austin office to expand engineering, design and consulting services.

1.Industry recognition from the Star Tribune, Zweig Group and Engineering News Record.
WSB was honored to be named a Top 150 Workplace, Hot Firm and Top 500 Design Firm.