Monday, February 06, 2023

LCC program serves as springboard for jobs

| October 6, 2004 12:00 AM

By Paul Boring Western News Reporter

The Lincoln County Campus Building Trades Program has been a springboard for students seeking employment.

³My returning second year students are all being hired,² said Jerry Marquez, program instructor.

Three students completed the two-year program last spring, each securing positions immediately.

³They made the connections while they were in the program and were hired right away,² Marquez said. ³It¹s a great deal.²

Twenty-two former Stimson employees who began the program last year have returned this year to complete the course, now in its third year at LCC. The three first-year students are receiving a crash-course in construction at the new site located on Utah Avenue next door to the house students completed last year.

³All but three of them are returning and they want to push ahead and build the house at almost a real life pace,² Marquez said. ³The new students have already caught up to us in the textbook. They¹re up to where we want them to be.²

The dynamics of the class have changed this year, as many of the students are juggling the course, which entails classroom time and on-site work, and employment they have found as a result of the skills obtained while enrolled in the program.

³We¹re trying to accommodate everyone,² Marquez said. ³It¹s been pretty tricky, but they all got together and devised a schedule that has worked great. They have to go to school and cover the jobsite. We have a board that tells everyone when the jobsite¹s covered.²

Aside from simply building a new house, Marquez has been meticulous in ensuring that each new home is a quality product that will please the buyer.

³We¹re going to make some more improvements on this house,² he said. ³We again chose to make this an Energy Star house and we¹re considering putting in that On Demand hot water heater instead of a tank. We¹re also looking at possibly upgrading the windows again and just trying to build a better house. We¹re going to look at all of our options.²

With a year of knowledge amassed, the students opted to simulate the operations of an actual construction site. They will work feverishly to finish the roof of the house by Halloween, roughly one month ahead of the proposed schedule.

The three students who graduated last year served as class leaders. Given the large number of returning students this year, the working pupils voted to discard the caste system, Marquez said.

³They¹ve decided that they¹re going to be the bosses and the workers together,² he said.

Marquez, an accomplished licensed contractor with countless houses underneath his tool belt, has grown into the instructor position.

³I¹m more comfortable now,² he said. ³I know what the students need to learn. The carpentry textbook we have is excellent and we have access to up-to-date codebooks.²

When the students complete the program, they will be equipped with information and know-how that will serve them personally and professionally.

³They¹ll know how to read plans,² Marquez said. ³They¹ll probably be able to draw their own plans. They¹ll know how to estimate off of plans. They can see the big picture. I¹ll show them how to be a registered contractor.²

Marquez has witnessed noticeable changes in the attitudes of the students as the construction of each house has progressed.

³Three quarters of the way through, it¹s changed from simply a project to our house,² he said. ³They have pushed each other to make it better. And that benefits the students and the buyer. We build a nice house.²

Spring graduation will see a mass exodus from the program. Marquez hopes to see a strong contingent of young students enrolled next year.

³I¹m disappointed we don¹t have any high school students,² he said. ³It¹s a shame because that should be my core group now. We need bodies. It¹s not too late to join. And we always welcome guests to come on by and see what we¹re doing.²

For more information about the program, contact the Lincoln County Campus at 293-2721.