Class project engineers a love story
Group projects are designed to teach you the keys to successful teamwork, but two Construction Engineering and Management alumni found their partner for life.
Linley Pierson ‘21 and Brandon Wade ‘20 first met in Introduction to Construction Engineering and Management. CEM Program Chair and Assistant Professor of Practice Ashley Johnson placed them together in a housing community group project. Johnson said she groups them based on their StrengthsFinder results and their approach to assignments. Pierson’s top strength was a relationship builder while Wade was a strategic thinker.
“They spent a lot of time doing group projects, group work and team things, so I could see that they were sitting close to each other, so it just kind of seemed like they were friends or knew each other,“ said Johnson.
The project brought the pair closer together through studying and getting ready for presentations together. Often, they found themselves at the library for group projects ahead of their other partners, which left them more time to get to know each other
“Brandon just wanted to do the CAD (computer-aided design), and I just wanted to talk about my problems, so we kind of became friends from there,” Pierson recalled.
Despite having more classes together, becoming lab partners, and sitting with each other, they were still just friends. They once again found themselves in Johnson’s class, but this time they could pick their own group partners.
“No matter what, we would always be in a group together so we were always hanging out,” Wade said.
While taking Johnson’s Scheduling and Estimating, they decided to go on a date. It was in true Virginia Tech style with a Hokie basketball game and trip to PK’s Bar & Grill.
“I think we were both kind of nervous because we didn’t really consider it a date, but we both knew it was a date,” said Pierson. “I would say that I didn’t know how he felt, and I’m not sure if he knew how I felt.”
But the butterflies calmed down after that and their relationship continued for the rest of their time at Virginia Tech.
“It seemed obvious to me … they were closer than any of my other students,” said Johnson.
As they looked ahead to graduation, suddenly the decision for where to move involved two opinions.
“I remember those discussions and I was like ‘that’s really sweet that you’re thinking about that and doing it that way,’” said Johnson.
When Wade graduated in December 2020, he bought a ring and proposed. Pierson graduated in May 2021, and they tied the knot just a few months later in September. With a teal and orange color scheme for the wedding, the signature Myers-Lawson School of Construction ceremonial hardhats fit right in with the decor.
They now live in Nashville, Tennessee working in the industry in which they met. Linley is a Project Engineer for J.E. Dunn, and Wade works with 3D modeling as a Project Engineer for R.C. Matthews Contractor.
As they look back on their time at Virginia Tech, both of them point to Johnson’s classes as their favorite. While Wade enjoyed learning the scheduling and estimating side of construction Pierson treasures her time in her introduction-level course not only because it led her to her now husband, but because she was able to learn more about the industry she now calls her own.
“It made me feel rounded and like this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do,” said Pearson.
Written by Ashley Wills