Joe Champion pic
Joe Champion
UNF Degree: B.S. Civil Engineering, 2003
Employment: Ellis & Associates, Inc.

A Champion for UNF

Champion grew up in Tallahassee and imagined he would follow in his father’s footsteps as an engineer. However, he had a brief fling with architecture school before deciding that he’d rather experience life in a bigger city. That brought him to Jacksonville, where he was introduced to UNF and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction. The Civil Engineering Program was just starting, and Champion became one of about seven students in that inaugural class. The expansive nature of UNF’s civil engineering instruction allowed Champion to dabble in a number of different key engineering disciplines and helped him decide what he did and didn’t like about his potential field. The small class sizes also granted him a level of practical experience that was invaluable once he started his professional career.

“My professors really made a big difference in my career success,” he said. “They were teaching seven to 10 students at a time, and their effort and attention was always there instead of being split between 50 to 100 other students. When I was looking for a college, I wanted a unique situation that catered to me, and that’s what I got at UNF.”

He also credited his professors with supplementing the in-class experience by taking students out into the field.

“We went to construction sites, concrete plants — you name it,” he said. “When you’re going from the classroom to seeing it in person — I think that was what granted me the confidence to do what needed to be done once I graduated and started working.”

Champion said his UNF professors, many of whom he considers colleagues to this day, helped set him up with the key interviews that led to his life-changing internship. To pay that kindness forward, he returns to campus every year to talk to students about potential career paths and offers his assistance in finding post-collegiate employment.

“My professional journey started here, so I want to do what I can to help UNF students start their own careers.”