Building an Alma Mater

  • June 9, 2021

Bryan Luna ’18 enjoys putting his bachelor’s degree in construction management to work on an innovative building on his alma mater campus.

A project manager for Rudolph and Sletten, Inc., Luna is directing the team constructing Cal State East Bay’s new state-of-the-art CORE Building.

When completed, the CORE Building — a 21st-century academic library with a Hub for Entrepreneurship on the ground floor — will become a 100,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-certified facility center for learning, engagement, and collaboration located at the heart of the hilltop campus. 

“I definitely take a lot of pride in being part of this venture,” Luna said, describing the CORE Building as a particularly challenging project. “Everyone starting out in their career needs to progress in their career pretty quickly, and this is a really interesting, tough project with a lot of things you wouldn’t see in many buildings.”

As a student, Luna served as president of the Construction Management Club, networking with its 200 members, interacting with a network of local construction companies, and ultimately landing an internship with Turner Construction in 2017.

“The club opened a lot of doors for me,” he said. 

An active alumnus, Luna keeps in touch with his former professors from his headquarters in a trailer on the CORE Building job site.

He credits those professors — including Associate Professor Cristian Gaedicke and Assistant Professor Farnaz Ganjeizadeh — with making their classes particularly relevant to the working world. 

“They shared real-world issues and real-life experiences and knowledge that helped us learn good standards,” he said. 

“Since most general contractors won’t hire anyone without a degree, mine gave me a foot in the door of the whole industry.”

His classes often featured virtual reality and actual construction tools showing students the way projects would really play out, rather than relying merely upon the academic descriptions in a textbook, he adds.

Luna says he has always been interested in construction, and as a child, often assisted his father in various woodworking and carpentry projects. 

But until he discovered East Bay’s construction management program, Luna wasn’t sure what avenue to pursue after earning his associate’s degree in business from Evergreen Valley College in San Jose.

“I wanted to go into business, but I’m a hands-on person,” he said. “When I found out about this program, I was thrilled to be able to apply my community college business classes toward the degree, and to ultimately work in an industry that allows me to be hands-on.” He had some construction experience prior to entering East Bay.

Luna said his transition from community college to university was smooth. He appreciated that his Cal State East Bay studies allowed him to work and attend classes at the same time, a necessity as he was paying out of pocket for his education.

“Since most general contractors won’t hire anyone without a degree, mine gave me a foot in the door of the whole industry,” Luna said. “I was in college for six years altogether, and I consider it a worthwhile investment.”

In his current position, he adds, “It’s really great to be giving back to the university.”