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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences



Zachary Johnson  Zachary d. johnson 

Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Construction Systems Management
New Albany, OH 

2024 Distinguished Senior Award Recognition Reception Program (.pdf) 

2024 Distinguished Senior Award Recipient Reception Poster (.pdf) 

Zachary Johnson is a Construction Systems Management major and ROTC cadet. His dream of entering the construction industry was recently deferred by another achievement: acceptance into the Air Force training program to become a pilot.

Zach considers himself a visual learner, and his favorite class was Materials and Methods, “taught by awesome lecturer Chris Tkach.” He appreciated the class’s balance between lectures and hands-on lab time as he learned the principles and practices of welding. As he applied the lessons from the classroom to the process, he learned it “could be amazingly frustrating and rewarding.” He found, “struggling through failures to get better made me more dedicated to the work.” Each time the lab period was complete, he was already looking forward to the next class.

An internship with Kwest Group provided another opportunity to apply information from the classroom to real world projects and challenges. As a project manager intern, he had the opportunity to call vendors, create estimates and travel to multiple job sites, both in and out of Ohio. For example, he conducted a pre-bid site walk-through in Waddy, Kentucky. In Findlay, Ohio he observed different stages of construction of an AEP substation rail reinforcement, where he gained hands-on experience pouring and finishing concrete with a crew. He also learned to use digital software, including producing three-dimensional renderings.

Zach’s dedication to learning from mistakes and striving to improve served him well in the classroom and his Field Training for the US Air Force. The Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) is focused on providing cadets with leadership skills and preparing them for active duty. During the first two years as a student, cadets are evaluated and ranked. They receive an enrollment allocation and complete their Field Training. At that point, they sign a contract and commit to the Air Force without knowing their eventual career path. Zach hoped to be admitted into the pilot training program and is proud of being accepted. Only about 10% of cadets achieve that career path.

Zach has risen from cadet to squadron commander, now leading 34 cadets who may become Air Force officers. He is helping them prepare for Field Training this summer by presenting dynamic learning opportunities and holding high standards.

He credits the CSM program, and the people in it, for helping him achieve academic and career success. He appreciates his mentor Phil Sutton, as well as his other instructors and fellow students. The support he received from the program gave him confidence belief in himself.

Zach will commission into the US Air Force (USAF) as a 2nd Lieutenant, entering active duty to start the multi-year journey of earning his wings and becoming a pilot. His goal is to become a fighter pilot for the F-22 Raptor. Whether he stays in the USAF longer than his 10-year commitment is uncertain, but when he leaves, he intends to return to the construction industry.

Service, involvement, and accolades: Air Force ROTC, cadet | Dean’s List | Newcomb Scholar

Zachary Johnson - Press Release

Zachary Johnson - Photo Album