Recently ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering brought together a host of local companies and academic experts to share building and engineering skills with a group of middle school students from Gila River Indian Community. The event was part of the Gila River community’s STEAAAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Agriculture, Architecture and Math) program. 

The event included team members from Phoenix-based Kitchell and other design and construction professionals who shared hands-on activities to teach the students critical thinking skills in both group and individual environments. The intent was to showcase how Native youth can learn about professions in the built environment and inspire them to pursue STEAAAM-related careers. Exercises and projects taught the basic elements of structural engineering (think: Legos) and how virtual reality illustrates how projects will look before they are completed. There was also a representative from the Carpenters Union to talk about trades.

“One of our big efforts when we take on a Native American project is to employ as many Tribal workers as possible,” said Kitchell’s Kari McCormick. “The more we can do to inspire youth to pursue careers in this profession, the better for all of us.”

In addition to Kitchell, participating companies were the Kapture Group, FCI Constructors Inc., Sletten Companies, SPS+ Architects and FourthWorld Design Group. Faculty members from the Del E. Webb School of Construction – Construction in Indian Country program and Gila River Indian Community Utility Authority (GRICUA) were also in attendance.

In 2016 Kitchell was ranked as the 6th-largest commercial contractor in the Southwest according to Engineering News-Record, and is consistently ranked as one of Engineering News-Record’s top 200 commercial contractors in the country.

Kitchell offers a wide array of services from development and program management to construction and facility management. Founded in 1950 as a modest family-owned construction company, today the employee-owned company manages projects from seven offices around the country, and has annual billings of more than $650 million. Kitchell offers expertise in hospitality, healthcare, corrections, gaming, utility, multifamily, renewable energy, retail, performing arts, custom homes and academia. Learn more at