Damien McCants '03, '14
Class of '03, ‘14
Business Development at DPR Construction
Since graduating as a mechanical engineer from Virginia Tech, I have worked in project management and account management. I spent most of my career in the HVAC industry before moving into general contracting, where I currently work in business development for DPR Construction. In addition to my mechanical engineering degree, I also earned an MBA from Virginia Tech. I currently reside in Ashburn, Virginia, with my wife, Krystal, who is also a Hokie.
What impact did the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) have on you?
CEED was, and is, an important part of my life. I participated in many of its programs, including ASPIRE, BEST, and the tutoring center as a student. Those programs allowed me to excel academically as well as personally. I was able to network with other students through academics, and we learned from one another in various subjects. The experience helped me create friendships that I still have today.
As an alumnus, I was a member of the CEED Industry Advisory Board and have talked to CEED students about industry topics and how to prepare for career fairs and interviews, and I have supported CEED by giving back financially.
Bevlee Watford, the director of CEED, has been a mentor of mine for almost 25 years. Her encouragement and the resources of CEED throughout my academic career allowed me to be successful and understand the value of learning in a community.
How do you continue to stay engaged with the college and why is it important to you to do so?
Today, I continue to stay engaged as a member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board, through corporate recruiting for my employer, as well as participating in various alumni events on and off campus. I want to be a voice for anyone in a similar situation to mine as an undergraduate student, providing support and encouragement.
What is your fondest memory from your time in the college?
My fondest times are the long hours I spent in the mechanical engineering lounge. This space had a couch, computers to check emails and Blackboard, as well as tables to collaborate with classmates. The computers had all the programs needed for our classes, allowing projects and assignments to be done in close proximity to professors and classmates who could support you. Some of that time was also spent dreaming of what we would do when we graduate, wondering if we’d graduate, and providing personal support for one another.
I had the support of friends like Jerry McClam, Justin Berg, and Rob Robinson. I even studied with my now wife, Krystal McCants, even though she was an accounting and information systems major. Having the support of peers who were seeking the same success as me made the journey easier.
Why is giving back to Virginia Tech important to you?
I give back as a way to stay connected to the students and the university. It’s important because it allows an avenue for students to get an extra step ahead. Whether it’s through time, talent, or treasure, giving back makes a difference in a variety of ways to many students.
What advice would you share with your college self?
Study harder! I often got frustrated with the work and workload so I didn’t always give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. This was reflected in my grades even though I learned and understood the material.
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2003
MBA, Virginia Tech, 2014