More than just swinging a hammer
The real world of construction was revealed to area educators June 24-25 at the South Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility expansion and upgrade project in the Nevada Chapter Associated General Contractor’s summer Education Externship program.
The program, now in its fifth year, bridges the gap between the lessons students learn in the classroom and how it applies to real world applications in the construction industry. Teachers not only get exposed to the skills needed for a construction career, but also create lesson plans in the applicable curricula using examples from construction project management and skilled trades.
KG Walters Construction Co. hosted the 40 “externs” at the expansion project located at 8500 Alexander Lake Road in Reno. They also participated in training at the Nevada Chapter’s AGC/NAM Training Center, 5400 Mill Street and visited ACE Charter High School, 2800 Vassar Street, for an overview of the school’s construction trades-focused program.
“This represents a record number of attendees,” said program coordinator Melissa Duvall. “Representatives from all three school levels, including counselors and department of professional learning staff, were involved in specific construction activities and lectures that demonstrated the extensive knowledge of math, science and language arts required to work in the construction/engineering industry.”
The Externship is accredited for teachers’ continuing education credits and participants will be required to prepare a lesson plan that integrates the use of construction/engineering in the acquisition of a particular math, science or language arts skill set.
The course work, which takes the participants from project conception and bidding process, to inspections and subcontractor coordination was evolved in part by the Nevada Chapter’s Education Committee and the Washoe County School District Professional Development Office.
“The objective is to develop a new career road map introduced and promoted by educators,” Duvall said. “The Nevada AGC Externship Program gives them the exposure and knowledge of hands-on work site shadowing, lectures from construction leaders and apprenticeship program representatives. This gives teachers tools to build curriculum that would apply to the real world of construction career employment.”
Northern Nevada is coming off a record recession, which led to construction unemployment levels of nearly 70 percent, she said.
“This forced many skilled workers to leave the market. As the industry and economy rebounds, we need to fill in through sufficient secondary school curriculum and technical education training programs to expand the growing demand for skilled workers,” Duvall said.
Companies and organizations making presentations and demonstrations for the educators include: KG Walters Construction, CH2MHill, RHP Mechanical, San Joaquin Electric, Carpenters Union Apprentice Program and ACE Charter High School.
A fall program is also planned.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.