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SWGTC Alumnus Shaun Peppers: From Humble Beginnings to Building Bridges Across America

According to his mother, Shaun Peppers was always an extremely intelligent child.  He showed a passion for art, specifically for drawing. However, when Shaun entered high school at Thomas County Central he didn’t have the same passion for his academics, and eventually dropped out. After working for a short period, he knew he was destined for more. Shaun’s search to find a successful and fulfilling career led him to Southwest Georgia Technical College (SWGTC). He began taking adult education classes to help him prepare for his next step, taking the GED.

After passing the GED, Shaun immediately enrolled in the drafting program at SWGTC.

When asked why he chose this program, Peppers commented, “I always liked to create things and had an imagination fit for design. The thought of creating something that helps others, or makes our lives easier, was something that intrigued me. So, when I heard about the Drafting program I knew it was right for me.”

 Once enrolled in the program it became apparent that Shaun had found his niche.

“Shaun was an excellent student moving right through the program while working days and attending school at night.  He is a high-energy type of guy, and I often times had to slow him down to keep his subject matter retention in line with his progress.  Shaun was always ready for a challenge.  I asked him to work extra in the 3-D animation certificate program we were starting.  He willingly worked at this skill, and his team ended up winning the gold medal in this category (3-D animation) at the Georgia SkillsUSA competition. They then got the opportunity to compete at the national SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City, Missouri representing Georgia,” commented Rodney Braswell, Shaun’s Drafting Instructor.

Shaun graduated in September of 2000.

“My instructor, Rodney Braswell, was the greatest! The program was fun and exciting. I had the chance to try 3D modeling and animation. This was something new at the time, but now I work regularly in 3D models and utilize them to create structural plans.”

Shaun didn’t have the same problem many college graduates have finding employment after graduation.

“When I graduated, I had already started my career. I worked at a drafting firm the last six months of college while attending night classes. After graduating, my instructor told me about a job opening in Tallahassee, Florida for a firm that specialized in designing bridges. This was the real start for my career. I feel without SWGTC and a great instructor, I would not be where I am now. “

Shaun has had quite a successful career. Since his first post-graduation position at Parsons of Tallahassee, where his primary focus was bridge design, he has had the opportunity to literally build bridges across the country. 

He eventually relocated to California for his career when he landed a monumental project working on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. While in California, Shaun has worked on many other exciting projects such as the Caldecott Tunnel, Benicia Bridge, and the Bart Retrofit project..  Since his first post-graduation position at Parsons of Tallahassee, where his primary focus was bridge design, he has had the opportunity to literally build bridges across the country.

With years of experience in tunnel and bridge design under his belt, Shaun decided to try his hand at building design. In order to do so, he had to learn Revit, a building information modeling software. While training on this new program, Shaun continued to expand his repertoire with projects like the Chinatown Central Subway Station, the Cal Berkeley Stadium, and the new Facebook West Campus, in Menlo Park, California.

Shaun became so well-versed in this Revit he even started a YouTube channel of his own, RevitAddict.

“RevitAddict began when I posted in-house training videos I made at my previous firm. After that, it took on a life of its own, and became a way for me to give back. Because YouTube has been such an invaluable learning resource for me, I wanted to help others in my field, specifically those unable to pursue continuing education,” Peppers added.

In October 2013, Shaun started his latest venture in a new position as the firm-wide BuildingSMART Specialist for HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.

“My mission now is to help HOK be known for more than great architecture. Their structural department is just getting started, and my job is to help the firm usher its engineering into the BIM world with a whole new set of structural standards,” said Peppers.

While Shaun has been very busy growing his career, he has also grown his own family unit. In 2013, he and his wife of five years, Carol Truong Peppers, had their first child, Logan. They also have a black pug, Macy.In photo: Shaun Peppers (left) with his mom, Carol, and his dad, James, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

Shaun keeps up with his alma matter through his mother, Carol H. Peppers, also a SWGTC alumni, who works at the College’s information desk of their administrative building. She is often-times referred to as the “face of the College.” She greets every student, employee, and visitor who enters their flagship building, and always does so with a smile.

Strong work ethic must run in the Peppers family. When talking about his mother, Shaun stated, “Throughout my childhood, my mom was always a manager - a good manager - someone her employees enjoyed working alongside. She was consistently a leader in everything she did, and that rubbed off on me in my career.”

Shaun says his mother encouraged him to finish his degree and always kept him motivated.

When asked what he would say to motivate other potential drafting students, Shaun responded, “If a student takes anything from my career, I hope they know I’ve had fun along the way. Working with drawings and 3D models has been rewarding for me and many of my colleagues. At the end of the day, who doesn’t like to draw right? We may not all be good at it, but we can have fun trying.”

Shaun believes in technical education and encourages students to utilize this affordable and effective resource.

“Many of my colleagues accumulated serious student loan debt while attending larger colleges and universities. Technical education offers driven students an avenue to attain their education, and get right to work, often in less time and more affordably. Those who graduate from technical colleges have just as much an opportunity for a rewarding career if they work diligently. And, in my opinion, these graduates are better prepared for the real world because they require less on-the-job training by the employer. SWGTC equipped me with the skill set necessary to ‘hit the ground running’ in my career, and ultimately was instrumental in my success.”

Southwest Georgia Technical College is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.

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