SEESL/UB-NEES Education, Outreach and Training
A Unique Educational Experience for Community College Students in the Engineering and Construction of Woodframe Structures for Seismic Performance
July and August, 2006
During phases 4 and 6 of construction of the NEESWood project, in July and August 2006 respectively, twenty-four (24) students from the SUNY-ECC “Construction Management Engineering Technology (CMET), Civil Engineering Technology and Building Management/Building Trades Programs,” organized in three (3) groups, were responsible for the installation of the gypsum wall board on the interior walls (perimeter-phase 3; interior & ceiling phase-4) of the 2-story townhouse. These ECC, 2-year community college engineering students included both male and female students of domestic and international origin, students from minority groups, students who entered ECC directly from high-school, and students returning to college after having worked in various construction trades and jobs for several years. The student groups worked four and one-half hour (4.5 hr) shifts per day through the designated time period in accordance with UB’s project schedule. The student work- shifts overlaped thirty minutes (30 min.) throughout the twelve (12 hr) hour working day. ECC faculty and the UB-NEES project faculty and laboratory staff were supervising the student work groups.
In preparation for the construction gypsum-installation phases of the project, as a key element of their ECC class assignment, the students prepared a detailed project schedule, using Microsoft Project, which is compatible with the master NEESWood benchmark test project schedule. The schedule included the specification and procurement of the equipment, materials and supplies required to perform these tasks, skill training and data collection for a practice run, safety training and the wood-frame construction engineering seminar held at UB. The students were provided with a fixed budget to manage and procure their materials and supplies. Upon completion of construction, students participated in physical testing of the townhouse, recorded damage and vulnerable conditions, and suggested ways and means to retrofit the structure in shortest time and minimal resources.
Upon successful completion of their class project assignment, the two gypsum installation phases, the on-site training seminar and the observation session, the ECC students were awarded certificates acknowledging their direct support of this highly visible and unique NSF supported project, that will ultimately lead to the development of a new design philosophy for the logical and economical basis for the design of mid-rise woodframe construction, thus enabling mid-rise woodframe construction to be an economic option in seismic regions around the U.S. and the world. The EOT achievement realized by this collaboration directly benefits the broader education and experience of the ECC students through their direct participation in the construction of the town-house. It fulfills and enriches their educational experience at ECC, exposes them to the safety and operational practices of a major laboratory, and finally provides a unique educational experience in seismic engineering construction. It is envisioned that this will enhance their professional careers, perhaps enticing some to pursue advanced degrees in Civil Engineering.