Students gain through Construction Camp

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For 17 District high school students and 28 area students in all, the school year lasted one week longer than it did for most others.

The students were part of the second annual Construction Camp. The Middleton Cross Plains Area School District collaborated with J.H. Findorff & Son to show students what the construction trade program is about, allowing them to have hands-on experience while learning about the trades profession.  

The students spent the first day at Findorff’s headquarters to learn about the various careers available in the construction field. These include designing, construction, estimating, job bidding, safety, marketing and accounting. Students learned of the various career opportunities in the trades programs and the future needs of industry. One activity had the students review various bids from different trades, which the students used to calculate an estimation to complete the job. Groups that had the winning bid received prizes.

During the week, students went to General Heating and Air Conditioning, learning about the design process, sustainability and technology in design. Students worked with sheet metal, learning how to measure, layout and fabricate various projects. They used a welding simulator to determine the strength of their welds. Students learned about the importance of job safety and the equipment needed to perform work safely. Students also used a GPS device to help locate the positioning of equipment per the design plans.

Students went to the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters training center and learned how to frame walls, doors and windows using sheet metal studs. They also learned how to work safely to avoid injuries and the many careers available to them as a carpenter.  

Students learned about brick laying, tile installation and caulking from the Bricklayers Union. Using tools of the trade, they built a brick wall, cut, designed and laid tile on a floor and caulked sheet metal pieces to prevent moisture from entering.

On the last day, students visited the Findorff construction site for the new Verona Area High School.  Students interacted and discussed with multiple skilled trade workers how they were interested in getting jobs in the trades, education and training needed, the salary range for the different areas and the opportunities for advancement.

During the week, students learned of youth apprenticeship programs available to them. Students learned the construction companies are hiring people who want to enter the trades industry. While students are working, the employer will pay the tuition for the students to attend technical college part time and work for the employee. Students in the trades program will not have any student loans and learn about an industry that is in need of workers in all trade areas including bricklayers, electricians, carpenters, sheet metal workers, HVAC workers, plumbers, heavy equipment operators and ironworkers.

Findorff representatives hammered home the importance the construction trades program has on the local economy and unlimited opportunities available to students, said Glacier Creek technology education and engineering teacher Matt Vande Sande, who helped plan the camp. Findorff staff also drilled in the importance of working safely on all projects, he sadded.

"This was a well-run camp, with no corners cut and all activities being measured,'' Vande Sande said. "Students were surprised to learn about the many different and unique opportunities available in the construction industry.''