The 7th Annual Holiday Invitational Carpentry and Masonry Competition on December 12 gave tri-county high school teams the opportunity to show off their construction and masonry skills to each other and to a panel of construction professionals.
Hosted by Oakland Schools Technical Campus-Northwest, the event was held inside the cavernous activity center at Springfield Oaks County Park. The air in the center was thick with sawdust; students handled 2x4s and sheets of plywood while wielding buzz saws and hammers.
Carpentry students were given a new blueprint, and each team had to build a small house within a few hours. Structural Engineer Robin Johnston and his architect wife, Cory, from Johnston Design, have drawn up and donated the blueprints for the competition for the last 6 years. Five judges decided how well the teams incorporated required elements into their framed structures.
“Framing is the basis of all construction,” said Jerry Roberts, retired home improvement contractor from C&L Ward Bros., and 20-year volunteer with OSTC’s construction program. “Framing is a building block and it’s at the root of occupations in electrical, plumbing, building and engineering. Construction is where the real world is at…”
“Demand is huge for these highly skilled young people,” Jerry added. “ Everything doesn’t have to be computers! You can make a very, very good living working in construction. When I was in Home Improvement we could not find anywhere near the number of people we needed. We constantly heard “I just can’t find help” from our contractors.”
Oakland Schools Technical Campuses are working to fill the skilled-trades gap. In addition to Carpentry and Masonry, OSTC’s Construction Technology cluster (available at the Southeast, Northeast and Northwest campuses) offers career development in Heating & Air Conditioning, Concrete, Plumbing, Electrical and Refrigeration – along with high school academics and free college credit!
Chuck Locklear, dean of OSTC-Northwest, was justifiably proud of the program. “Our Construction Tech students graduate with practical knowledge gained by working on actual builds, and through the hands-on learning experience provided by competitions.”
“Competitions give students the chance to work collaboratively, and the opportunity to practice skills. Seeing the work of other students is also extremely motivational!” said OSTC-NW Instructor Duane Olds.
“Our Holiday Invitational gives students across Southeast Michigan real-time preparation for the upcoming SkillsUSA regional, state and national competitions beginning in February,” added NW Instructor Dick Moscovic. “And our first year students will be ready for the Novice Tournament in June.”
“The Holiday Invitational Competition builds confidence. Students get to see how far they’ve come and how far they still have to go!”
For more information about this event please contact Mary Beth VanBuskirk, OSTC-NW, at 248-922-5813.
by Blog Editor: Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools
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