Expanding Opportunity through Higher Education

Cary Schroeder tells his students that great structural engineers leave no trace of their work. An Olsson engineer by day, Schroeder mentors engineering college students at night. He emphasizes that typically, the bones of most buildings are asked to be hidden.

But recently, Schroeder was able to shine a light on those “bones” at Southeast Community College (SCC) in the Nebraska town of Beatrice.

“SCC wanted to promote a new, lively campus to offer students,” Cary said.

“We knew this was a big deal to expand higher education access in Nebraska.”

Multistudio and BVH Architecture had a vision to create an inviting and visually stunning facility at the Beatrice campus. The two design firms recruited Olsson's structural engineers to help. Our structural designs enabled natural daylight to enter the building by leaving the structure uniquely exposed. This celebrated – rather than concealed – the building’s structure.

“It was fun knowing the bones of the building would be visible because we had the ability to be creative and show them off as part of the architecture, which is unique,” Cary said.

Adhering to a strict schedule, Olsson structural engineers successfully completed structural designs on time and on budget. Olsson also provided civil engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, and construction administration for the project.

In 2020, SCC opened a $16 million, three-story Academic Excellence Center, the first of its kind in the area. The building, dedicated to learning and gathering together, provides modern classrooms and state-of-the-art labs for students. It is the state’s first community college building constructed as part of the system’s campus revitalization master plan.

The master plan is key to expanding higher education throughout Nebraska. From additional community college work in Nebraska’s capital city of Lincoln to tight-knit communities like Falls City and Milford, Olsson engineering teams have helped develop top-notch learning facilities across the state.

Also on SCC’s campus is the new $3 million student dining center. Olsson led civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering for the facility and designed the power layout for the snow melting system.

“These new educational centers will continue to attract more students to campuses and offer great amenities to the public,” said Tyler Paulsen, Olsson technical leader and a project manager of the SCC work. “This development is important to boost economies and bring new opportunities to people.”

Since the project’s completion, it has been recognized with several notable industry awards: 


- AIA National Education Facility Design Award

- ARCHITECT Magazine Award


- American Architecture Award

- IIDA Interior Design Excellence Award

- Society of College and University Planning Excellence Award

- AIA Nebraska Architecture Honor Award

- AIA Nebraska Architectural Award - Excellence in Architecture Detail


- AIA Kansas Merit Award - Excellence

- AIA Kansas Architectural Honor Award

- AIA Kansas People's Choice Award

- AIA Central States Merit Award - Architecture

Cary Schroeder
Group Leader
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