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Building the right career

Photos and Story by

Karl Lange

Karl Lange knows what his students are going through. A few years ago, he was just like them.

Lange, a Building Construction Technology instructor, is a construction manager for Renaissance Homes. He earned a BCT degree in 1999 and a construction management degree in 2000. His quest is to guide students into the myriad of job options in the construction industry.

"With students and their diverse backgrounds you never know where their interests might lead them," Lange said. "Managing students in the BCT program is a lot like managing construction projects. I let them know I’m available and have been down that road. I took morning classes, worked all day and then took a night class. I know what they are going through."

Lange can relate to the road his students are on. He intended to be a carpenter at first, and decided to take the journeyman test with a local union. He received his journeyman card but an interest in management won out.

"At the same time that I was looking to get a job with a homebuilder in management, I was also taking the BCT construction management classes in my second year," he said. "Having those classes was a foot in the door and I was hired on at the homebuilding company. It is the nature of the construction business. You start in one place but you will change and go to other areas depending on your interests."

Even before becoming a student, Lange was interested in construction thanks to his father. He grew up in the Canadian province of Ontario and helped his father build a vacation home there. In high school, his family moved to Oregon. But his moving didn’t end there. In his career, Lange started as an assistant construction manager with Shuler Homes and after a year went to Pahlisch Homes in the same capacity. After three years, Lange moved on to a construction manager position with Renaissance Homes.

"The construction industry is a different environment to work in than that of other careers," Lange said. "The diversity of jobs and work environments are what keeps your work fresh and keeps you going year after year."

During his time in construction management, Lange perfected his blueprint reading skills and because of that skill was asked to teach a blueprint reading class. He credits his attention to detail as getting him a chance to teach students how to read architectural plans. For Lange, it’s just where he wanted to be.

"If somebody had said to me when I started at PCC that I would be teaching here, I would have laughed," Lange said. "Now, that I’m here doing it, the whole path makes sense."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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