Western Nevada College News & Notes: Couple’s donation drives construction program at WNC

Students learn about hand tools during their construction class at Western Nevada College  April 4 in Carson City. Pictured from left are Cristian Avila, Susanne Whimple, instructor Nigel A. Harrison and Rick Robinson.

Students learn about hand tools during their construction class at Western Nevada College April 4 in Carson City. Pictured from left are Cristian Avila, Susanne Whimple, instructor Nigel A. Harrison and Rick Robinson.

The Ramsdell Go Pro Construction Academy is about to change the lives of many men and women who come through its doors at Western Nevada College.

Starting on Monday, WNC begins preparing students for leadership position in the construction industry through two semesters of classes or one semester of accelerated training. They can also use these classes as the foundation for pursuing a bachelor’s in Construction Management and a more lucrative position in the industry upon graduation.

“It’s basically what we envisioned when we set up the fund,” said Rob Ramsdell, who along with his wife, Dorothy, contributed $100,000 to the Bachelor of Technology program in the spring of 2014. “We are glad to see it growing. Others have supported it, and hopefully more people will support it, too. It’s going to develop into a United States-class program.”

Essentially, someone in the community can go from jobless into a career with an unlimited ceiling if they take the steps to invest in at least one semester of training at the academy.

“We are excited to help educate tomorrow’s construction workforce,” said WNC Career and Technical Education Director Georgia White. “The influx of money allowed WNC to develop this program at a time when the college does not receive ‘start-up’ funds for new programs. This program was recently approved to Nevada’s Education Training Providers List, which allows financial support to qualified individuals through our partners at JobConnect and JOIN.”

Ramsdell Academy grads will earn 24 credits, three certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration 30 card.

“The graduates of the Ramsdell Academy will be trained with the basic knowledge and skills to be a contributing member of whatever employer they go to work for, whether that’s a subcontractor or a general contractor,” said WNC Construction Instructor Nigel Harrison.

The academy also is a starting point for a student who might want to work in the business for a while, then return to college to earn a degree and become a competent construction manager who solves problems and is a creative thinker.

“It’s never a bad business to get into,” Ramsdell said. “There is a market for young men and women who can step into construction industry in Northern Nevada. There are lots of opportunities in the construction business, and the bottom line is that I see it getting better. There will also be the opportunity to provide additional training for people who are already educated in the field so they can go on to broader horizons.

“We’re pleased what’s going on and we look forward to watching it develop.”

Ramsdell has been instrumental in the design and development of WNC’s Bachelor of Technology program, which has evolved into a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Construction Management. By sharing his vast experience from a 30-year construction career, including 28 years with Peter Kiewit Sons Inc. in Omaha, Neb., the retired civil engineer wants students at WNC to have those same career opportunities.

“I’m sure a certain percentage who get into the business go on to get an engineering degree so they can go higher,” said Rob, who earned a civil engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. “If you work hard, it’s nice to have an education.”

Since 1999, the Ramsdells have contributed their time, expertise and resources to WNC. Their generosity has provided scholarships to students, as well as reconstruction of the Child Development Center playground, continued development of Jack C. Davis Observatory, creation of the Veterans Resource Center and institutional sustainability. The couple has also sponsored the WNC softball team and assisted in supporting the “Always Lost: A Meditation on War” exhibition tour.

“We want to do what we can for the community and the college in particular,” Rob previously said. “We’re real pleased to give the support we can give.”

For more information about the academy or the Construction Management program, contact Harrison at 775-445-4412 or Nigel.Harrison@wnc.edu.


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