Construction management students at Western Nevada College are learning about much more than wall studs, rim joists and framing this spring. Principally, they are also learning about humanitarianism.
Through construction classes taught by Nigel Harrison and Robert Ford, students have helped with renovation projects at the Friends In Service Helping thrift store in Carson City, as well as construction of the stage sets that will be used in the Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company’s upcoming production.
“Giving back to our community is important; to get out there and work for those who really need help offers students life experience. Providing a humanitarian element when teaching skills trades, exposes an appreciation in what our students are learning,” says Ford.
Ford said when he was at Western Carolina University, construction management students contributed 2,600 community hours in just two semesters.
“I would like to work on bringing a similar course format here,” Ford said. “An important thing about leadership is learning to adapt to different situations. Conflicts may exist within a construction crew, and a supervisor may not know what outside factors contribute to behaviors that spill over to the job site. Construction managers have to learn how to deal with various situations of a team environment or workforce and how to adapt when expectations aren’t met. Challenges have to be addressed because time and money is invested in all projects, and not confronting issues can lead to loss.”
Harrison’s classes constructed a railcar scene, a doorway to a public library, a porch setting and a bridge, which will be quite visible during the WNMTC’s presentation of “The Music Man,” starting on Friday, May 8. Performances are weekends, May 8-17. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. There’s also a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 16.
In the past, Stephanie Arrigotti, WNC music professor and the director and producer of “The Music Man,” has relied on community volunteers to construct the sets. That was until WNC’s construction management staff became involved last year for the production of “My Fair Lady.”
While it was premature last year to incorporate the students into the project, Ford shouldered the work himself, spending about 200 hours building the sets.
“If you show by example, that’s the greatest skill a leader can have,” Ford said. “When the students saw the pictures and read the reviews, they wanted to have a part of that.”
Arrigotti appreciates the efforts of the construction management instructors and students to complete this work on campus.
“Bob Ford is a perfectionist and passes this ethic on to whomever works with him,” Arrigotti said. “Our ‘My Fair Lady’ sets received glowing reviews from the critics. It is an extraordinary boon to the program to have Bob and Nigel bring their expertise to the construction of these sets.”
Ford said by helping others now, students could ultimately benefit when it comes time to looking for their first job.
“Even the industry recognizes this,” Ford said. “If they are going to invest money on a potential manager with the degree and they see how much service work a person has done, that may make the difference in selecting one job candidate over another.”