Framer & CM Continue Outreach Partnership with Hands-on Experience for Local HS Students

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineDecember 6, 2019
by Mindy Caldwell with contributions from NFC Staff


This fall, framer and NFC president Scott Stevens of Modu Tech once again teamed up with component manufacturer and SBCA member Aaron Mulligan of Stark Truss Baltimore to host a day-long tour for local high school students as part of the Baltimore Carpentry Task Force initiative they began in 2018. (Read about their December 2018 tour.) Thirty-two juniors and seniors taking classes in construction design and management at Patterson High School spent a day learning about the construction process from bunks of lumber to computer software to completed wall panels and roof trusses.

“Without a doubt, you have surpassed my highest expectations in so many ways,” wrote teacher Chris Scholz in an email to Scott and Aaron following the September tour. “This was one of the best field trips I have ever had the pleasure of attending, witnessing, and participating in.”

“The day was similar to our first tour in that it included dividing the students into two smaller groups to see the lumber yard and truss plant,” explains Scott. “The difference this time was the hands-on activity.” Students had the opportunity to build wall panels and roof trusses for a small shed they would later construct in the classroom.

“Taking a traditional field trip any place could be replaced with a video in many cases nowadays,” comments Chris on the reality of his students’ access to media. “When I walked through the plant with Scott last spring we came up with the idea for the shed so the students could be more hands-on with what they were seeing.”

“It’s important to do hands-on stuff,” Scott agrees. “Lecturing and handouts aren’t as effective as seeing nail guns pop and rollers press and handling the materials. The more interactive we can make these tours I think the stronger impression it leaves with the kids.”

“My students could not get enough of your hands-on activities, which were so well planned,” Chris includes in his follow up comments on the event. “The investment of man hours, materials, and the time it took to get your factory ready for our visit truly meant a lot to me. The pride in your company showed in all of your team, and their willingness to teach, demonstrate, and answer questions was fantastic!”

Student crouching to work on a rough opening

Aaron says he felt really good about the tour overall, though one lesson he learned for future tours will be to have more materials available in Spanish. “Almost half the students in the group didn’t speak a lot of English,” he explains, as close to half of Patterson’s student body speaks English as a second language, “but we had a couple of students translating, so it worked out fine.” Despite the language barrier, Aaron says, the group was engaged and asked good questions about the design software, how their products are built, and how to get a job.

“We had a few ask if they could work here this summer,” says Scott, who plans to continue their efforts with outreach to local high schools in the spring of 2020. “That’s the question I want to hear.”

This 10x10 shed plan provided students with a first-hand experience of what goes into a building: design software, headers, roof trusses, wall panels, and the onsite framing process.

Shed plan

Half of the students’ day included a tour of Modu Tech’s operations and building the walls for their shed.

Students at the Modu Tech plant tour

The other half of the day was spent in Stark’s component manufacturing facility building the roof trusses and rough openings, which included using the roller press.

Students at the Modu Tech plant tour

For more workforce development case studies on giving student tours, visit SBCA’s website.

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