Best Gig in the Galaxy

by Brooke Burlingame, public relations major

Jorge Rios holding a Stormtrooper mask

As soon as Jorge Rios ’17 BS graduated this spring with a degree in construction management, he blasted back to his hometown of Los Angeles to work on one of the most anticipated attractions in the world: Star Wars Land. 

The new galactic park, part of Disneyland in California (with a sister project at Disney World in Florida), will be an addition of restaurants, rides and shops all in the theme of Star Wars. As a field engineer, Rios will be in charge of the management side of the job by helping the superintendent to make sure everything is going as planned and things have been documented. 

“I am looking forward to seeing what they expect from me, and to see what exactly everything is going to look like,” said Rios. 

Rios came to NMU because of the surroundings, the coaches—he was a football running back—and the construction program. He noted that the construction management classes are small and interactive. The students and professors are able to get to know each other and help each other out. As a part of the program, students are connected with construction jobs occurring around Marquette and are able to visit the job sites to see how they are being managed. Students are also able to talk to important people in the construction industry to make interviews less stressful. On top of that, graduates of NMU’s construction management program have a 90+ percent placement rate within their field of study. 

“This job is an example of why I always have loved this major. Being able to work with huge projects and being able to say that I helped build something is just something to be proud of,” Rios said. Jorge Rios Standing next to a Stormtrooper statueHe was also a part of a lot of activities to get the community involved with NMU. For example, Rios was involved with informative tours on the different majors offered on campus. He helped show high school students around the facilities to tell them about the different jobs they can obtain in the construction management industry. 

“Being at Northern really taught me leadership skills, and how to deal with different people and problems. We are exposed to working with clients for certain projects and also worked on our own as students to solve problems and give alternative solutions.”

One summer, Rios landed an internship for a construction company repaving the runways for the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  “It was a great experience, looked good on my resume and helped me obtain the job I now have working at Disneyland.”

If Rios could live on any planet in the Star Wars universe, he said it would be Naboo, because it looks tropical. Building immersive alien lands and spacecraft in southern California might be a close second, though.