Students Work on Apartment Project
Students enrolled in the construction systems and methods class under the instruction of Daryl Delongchamp (Technology and Occupational Sciences) are experiencing an opportunity that is not typically available at most schools. They are directly involved in a major campus building project: the new Wright Street apartment complex.
The students have attended construction project meetings, developed related documentation, and created shop drawings. They also constructed rough framing of interior wall partitions for one of the apartments. The partitions were constructed as lab activities at the Jacobetti Center and then transported to the building site Friday afternoon for installation by the general contractor, Gundlach Champion (pictured below left). Throughout the project, students have interacted with NMU Engineering and Planning.
“The experience has been great in understanding what is involved in the construction management field," said Mark Jackan, a first-year master’s candidate. "Education in the classroom teaches you the basics, but you can’t learn the intricacies of the business without actually working on projects. This experience is also a good evaluator of whether we’re capable of applying what we learned in the classroom to real scenarios. Future classes should definitely get involved in similar projects.”
While this marks the first time that students have constructed part of a campus building, Delongchamp said the construction management curriculum has been involved to varying degrees in every major NMU construction project since 2001. Senior-level classes have participated in various service learning initiatives, including safety presentations for contractors (Whitman Renovation); value engineering (Magers Hall); time-management and scheduling scenarios (Meyland Hall); and document management (Art & Design). The students are regular attendees at pre-bid meetings, bid openings and progress meetings, usually outside of regularly scheduled class times. All classes within the curriculum make regular visits to the many projects that have been completed in the last five years on campus.
“This is a great opportunity for students to be involved in a major construction project and directly interact with contractors, construction managers, and design professionals," Delongchamp added. "It’s a real-life connection between the course material and what is applied in the construction field. The idea for this was a result of the networking relationship between the construction management faculty, Engineering and Planning, Finance and Administration, construction contractors, and the Upper Peninsula Construction Council. When the idea of students getting involved in the project was put on the table, all parties involved expressed strong support. Art Gischia ( Business Services) pioneered the idea and was instrumental in its development. Mike Roy (Finance and Administration), Carl Pace (Facilities), Jack LaSalle and Tony Retaskie have also been critical to the success of the construction management curriculum and construction industry relationship that continues to evolve."
Gischia added, "I gave my support for the idea of students as subcontractors because there is no better way to learn than the practical application of knowledge. These students were exposed to life situations that required logical thinking and practical application of their skills, and they will remember this experience as one that brought clarity to what they were learning in the classroom.
They were also introduced to some potential employers during the process."
About 60 students were involved in the Wright Street apartment project during the current academic year. Nearly 400 hours of student lab work was required to prepare the documents, coordinate the installation and construct the pre-fabricated wall system.