Iowa City HBA Helps Build Tomorrow’s Skilled Workforce

Filed in Construction Industry by on September 1, 2015 1 Comment

If you want to teach students how to do something, there are several approaches you can take. The Greater Iowa City Area HBA’s Vocational Training Council believes in the hands-on method.

This summer the council joined forces with a local community college to help students learn about career opportunities in the residential construction industry. The result?

About 25 students built a 1,500-square foot facility that now serves as the headquarters for the local school district’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.

NAHB members visit the STEM Center construction site in Tiffin, Iowa. From left: Duane Musser of MMS Consultants and Iowa City HBA board member; NAHB Regional Field Rep Michael Bezruki; ACE student Tyler Beers; and Tim Ruth, Iowa City HBA president.

NAHB members visit the STEM Center construction site in Tiffin, Iowa. From left: Duane Musser of MMS Consultants and Iowa City HBA board member; NAHB Regional Field Rep Michael Bezruki; ACE student Tyler Beers; and Tim Ruth, Iowa City HBA president.

The project began last fall when more than 150 high school students, all part of the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program, developed the design of the building. Working with an architecture and engineering firm, plans were drawn and construction began in June with the HBA’s Vocational Training Council serving as the general contractor.

“Our Vocational Training Council was established for these types of projects,” said Greater Iowa City Area HBA Executive Officer Karyl Bohnsack. “The HBA had already partnered with the community college’s construction academy on other projects, so this wasSTEM roof a good way to continue that relationship.”

Iowa City Area HBA President Tim Ruth marveled at the collaborative nature of the project, which represented a true community-wide effort.

“The project comes in under budget and on time; pretty amazing. Area business partners donated most of the materials. This is a building and a partnership that we can be proud of,” said Ruth.

By participating in actual build projects, students get a better sense of what’s involved in the various stages of a project and which job may be right for them. Students who worked at least 100 hours this summer on the STEM Center were eligible to receive college credit.

Proud students who helped with the construction stand in front of the STEM Center at the grand opening on Aug. 25.

The student crew who helped with the construction stand in front of the completed STEM Center.

“This project enables industry and education to partner on a level not normally achieved,” said Joe Greathouse, a construction management professor at Kirkwood Community College, who helped oversee the construction.

The STEM center’s doors officially opened today, the first day of the new school year.

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