Determined Designer

Truss Designer Emma Evans Has Been Singled-Minded in Her Pursuit of a Construction Career

As a student at Rockmart High School, Emma Evans competed in sports year-round. She was good enough in softball that she received a scholarship offer from Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA. By that point, however, she was determined to pursue a construction career, and she decided to study construction management at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

“It was like, ‘This is what I want to do,’” recalls Emma, who graduated from Rockmart in 2020. “I didn’t want to do anything else.”

Her decision has paid off – today she’s a graduate of GNTC and a truss designer at North Georgia Truss Systems in Cartersville. In August 2021, while she was still in school, she began a part-time job with the company. Two years later she’s thriving as a full-time employee.

Growing up, Emma initially didn’t have designs on any particular career. It was in Sweden, of all places, where her interest in construction was sparked. Her grandfather lived there and he turned her on to it during summer visits.

“Every year we went there for about a month, and he would do some construction stuff with me, and I just found a passion for it,” Emma remembers. “We did some odds and ends around the house, and we also built a one-bed, one-bath house beside their main house. We got to draw up the plans together, decide how the walls would be, design the exterior, all that.”

When Emma began high school in Rockmart, she enrolled in instructor Corey Smith’s construction program. She spent her senior year under another instructor, Greg Rainey. Both teachers, she says, were encouraging and only reinforced her desire to pursue a skilled trades career.

“They were always positive,” Emma says. “They never told us how bad we were; it was always, ‘You did it wrong? We can fix it. You’ll always learn something new. You’re never going to be done learning.’”

From electrical to framing to roofing, Emma says she and her classmates learned “a little bit of everything. Nothing really made me think, ‘I don’t want to give my energy to that.’ It was more like, ‘Oh, I could do this and that? I like all these things!’ I want to do something new every day. [Smith and Rainey] gave us real-world experience. I liked how they got to do those things in their lives, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

Emma recalls one particularly memorable learning experience from her high school days.

“Somehow Mr. Smith convinced a lady from Alabama to let us build a house for her,” she says. “We were sophomores and juniors in high school and we were getting to build a house from the ground up. I would go home and say, ‘Yeah, I framed up a wall for a house today,’ and my parents were like, ‘No way!’ I will never forget that whole experience.”

As a senior, Emma competed in SkillsUSA carpentry contests – with the emphasis on “competed.”

“I had never done Skills because I did sports year-round,” she says. “In my senior year, I was like, ‘I gotta do it, just to see.’ That’s what really drove it – I wanted to see how I did competing against other people. It definitely took me to the next level.”

Following her high school graduation, Emma gained some additional experience by helping Rainey build a deck on a house. “I guess you could say I did a summer internship with him,” she says with a laugh.

After that, Emma began classes in instructor Donny Holmes’ construction management program at NGTC. She also stayed in touch with Rainey, and in her second year at NGTC, he connected her to North Georgia Truss, which was seeking prospective truss designers for its custom-built flooring and roofing products. She was hired and began learning that trade while continuing her education.

Now she’s doing it every day, and she has no qualms about being a female in a male-oriented industry.

“I want women to know that we can be in the construction industry – it’s not just for men,” Emma says. “I’m a very competitive person, so if you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to prove to you I can. For other females who maybe aren’t sure they want to work with a bunch of guys, I want them to know that it doesn’t matter.”

Indeed, it doesn’t – especially for someone as determined as Emma Evans.

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