LU hosts gO SETX Construction Career Academy
The Texas Workforce Commission Summer Merit Program and Lamar University have teamed up with local businesses to bring 40 Golden Triangle students the gO SETX Construction Career Academy. The residential camp took place last week, in the former Early Childhood Development Center, on the Lamar University campus. Participating students were chosen from area schools by math and science teachers based on the students’ performance. The program is funded by the Texas Workforce Commission and is at no cost to the students chosen.
Otila Urbina, the gO SETX Academy executive director, said the program is unique because it combines hands-on activities and interaction with real field professionals to give students the best possible learning experience. Contractors from Morganti Texas, APAC and Mid-America Construction are participating in this year’s academy. “By getting businesses in the community involved it gives them an opportunity to feel like they have a stake in what we are doing,” she said.
Lynn Whorton, Lamar University director of planning, design and construction, taught the morning blueprint and construction laboratory for the academy. He said his goal was to teach the students real-life skills they can use throughout their career.
“We worked on a little bit of drafting, the basic understanding of how to read blueprints and how to build the frame and subfloor of a house,” he said. “They used real tools to cut everything to scale out of balsawood. Hopefully this may help some of them decide on a career in architecture, construction or interior design.”
The gO SETX Academy students spent the week at Monroe Hall in Lamar’s Cardinal Village. Whorton said he showed the students construction plans and photos of Cardinal Village to give them an idea of how the skills they are learning can lead to a finished product.
“The skills they are learning to build these models are the same ones we used in building Cardinal Village – just stacked three stories high,” he said. “So they were able to see how the things they are learning went into the place where they lived for the week.”
In addition to learning how to build from a blueprint, students worked with floor plans and learned about interior design.
“They each had a scale model they designed and put together to build their dream home,” Urbina said. “They learned how to think in terms of the infrastructure of a house, the measurements and where to place furniture.”
Deanna Eldred, LU interior design instructor, taught the afternoon interior design laboratory. She said the camp is an opportunity for students to explore the fields of construction science and to see how Lamar is preparing students for future career opportunities.
“People don't realize that interior design and construction management are majors offered at Lamar University,” she said. “So, these are very tangible and accessible fields right here in our own backyards.”