The Women in Construction – A Spotlight Feature

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Minneapolis – Buildings Construction

Live each day as if it were your last. Learn as if you would live forever.” The famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi is how Michelle Atkins tries to live her life.


Meet Michelle Atkins, one of four 2017-18 recipients of PCL Construction’s Construction Management Scholarship at the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies, and project coordinator for Medtronic Inc., in Brooklyn Center. Five years ago, her company asked her to develop an office space strategy to accommodate growth within the facility. It’s this project that ignited her enthusiasm for the construction management industry, and motivated her to continue her education.  

“Once involved, I started seeing the projects come to life, it was then that I realized that I had found my passion,” says Michelle.  “As the years have gone on, my role with facility projects has grown, with endless opportunities for learning.”

Michelle spends much of her time working on facility remodel projects in her current role. These can be anything from office remodels affecting over 100 employees, to smaller cafeteria and conference room renovations.

Continuing Education

In 2016, Michelle decided to continue her education and go back to school for a construction management degree. A non-traditional student at the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies, Michelle is focusing on a degree in commercial construction. She chose this program as it aligns with her current career path at Medtronic.

In her course studies, Michelle is learning the means and methods of managing construction within a regulated manufacturing environment. Applying this knowledge, she can address the logistical challenges that her 24/7 facility faces. Disruption avoidance is a top priority for a manufacturing facility, and Michelle works to facilitate collaboration among all stakeholders, determining the best course of action, and ensuring optimal outcomes.

“I am lucky enough to say that I have had more successes than challenges,” says Michelle. “I think that is because I have such a great support team at Medtronic, and work with some of the best contractors and subcontractors. It feels good when employees and visitors see the progress that the team is making, and like what they are seeing.”

After graduation Michelle hopes to advance her career at Medtronic and become a project manager, overseeing global projects.


Since the inception of the PCL’s endowed scholarship in 2011, the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies selects students based on merit, talent and need. It funds multiple scholarships each year.

The PCL Construction Management Scholarship was established by PCL Minneapolis to ensure that women and minority students, can become future leaders in the construction industry. With women representing only nine percent of the industry, Michelle is one of the many women who are breaking barriers in construction.

“Through your journey, don't be afraid to ask questions,” says Michelle when asked about advice she gives for women entering construction. “As I believe any sort of knowledge that comes your way can only benefit you.”

Congratulations again to Michelle on receiving this scholarship!