Architectural students contribute to Habitat for Humanity

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Second and third-year students of the College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) architectural engineering technology program are putting the skills they’ve learned to good use with Habitat for Humanity.

 Craig Greene, architectural engineering technology instructor at the CNA Ridge Road campus and build chairman with Habitat for Humanity, said in a news release while students have contributed to this worthy cause for the past three years by drawing up architectural designs, this is the first year they pitched in with on-site manual labour.

“I started with Habitat for Humanity in 2009 and one of reasons I got involved was because I saw a great potential for our students in the trades and technology programs to learn on the job and apply their skills to help their community so it’s a form of community engagement,” Greene said. “I’m an architect and I believe in what Habitat for Humanity does but I also saw an opportunity for our students to benefit from that experience, to learn on site and have a good time.”

Greene, who is also the program’s instructional co-ordinator, worked as a liaison for CNA and Habitat for Humanity to get the students in the field.

“What I really wanted to do is provide an opportunity for students. The second year-students went on site and did wood framing on the first floor. In the previous term they had studied wood framing so this gave them an opportunity to actually look at and apply what they had learned in school,” Greene said. “It gave them a hands-on experience as opposed to simply a classroom experience, plus there’s the team building aspect where you send everyone out for a day and they meet contractors and they work on a job site. Everyone appeared to have a pretty good time at it.”

Nineteen second-year students have framed some of the interior walls on the first floor of a structure. Initial construction began on the home Oct. 9 and is projected to be finished in early December.

“We’re trying to put those three pieces of puzzle together; what they learn in school, how to apply it and how to apply it so they help their community,” Greene said.

Last week, third-year students in the architectural program put their skills to work in the same Habitat for Humanity project but by installing insulation and vapour barrier.

“The idea was to get second years on to do framing and third years to do insulation and vapour barrier so they can relate to what they’ve learned in class,” said Greene. “Contractors like it too because they get a bunch of young people in their 20s on site who kind of add an energy.”

 Ian Martin, a second-year student from Mount Pearl, said it was a beneficial experience for everyone in the class.

 “I really enjoyed it because I have a casual background in building, particularly in wood frame type stuff. It was good to learn the innards of the structural nature of a house,” Martin said. “In being able to work with the Habitat for Humanity professionals, not only were they able to give us pointers, but I got to talk to a couple of them and ask about the industry so it was really beneficial.”

 Martin said being able to apply what you’ve learned in school and actually see it coming together in the real world gives students a better understanding. “When it’s on a computer screen and it’s a flat drawing is one thing,” he said, “but when you can see it built it takes on a different kind of life.”

 While Greene believes it’s great for students to gain practical experience, he said there’s a bigger picture to look at. “What I said to the students at the end of the day was ‘I hope you had a good day, I hope you had fun, I hope learned something don’t forget you helped to put a family in a home. You didn’t just nail in some two by fours. At the end of the day you assisted in putting a family in a home.’ And, that is what Habitat for Humanity is about,” Greene said.

Organizations: CNA, Habitat for Humanity

Geographic location: Paradise, CNA Ridge Road, Mount Pearl

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