Project Wunsche: When industry meets development, success is born

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, approximately 75 students in the Wunsche High School Construction Technology Program engaged in a real-world, interactive demonstration about adding fiber-glass sheathing to an exterior room mock-up led by Karsten Interior Services.


The goal? To address the workforce issues facing the industry by encouraging students to choose a career in construction.

 
What began as a labor of passion and dedication has blossomed into a gateway program that is not only bridging gaps between industry leaders and educators, but providing students an opportunity to expand their learning experience.

 
“Labor seems to be first in the minds of many,” said Angela Dunkle, Project Manager/Estimator for Karsten Interior Services. “The ABC Commercial Construction Committee is tasked with addressing the issues that are most problematic to our industry. Through adopting Wunsche High School, we are addressing those issues by encouraging young adults to choose our industry as a first choice, not a last choice.”

 
The Wunsche Project took roots while the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston’s Commercial Committee (ABCCC) was attending career fairs in the Houston-area. The Technology Academy Leader at Carl Wunsche Senior High School, Austin Hayward, approached Commercial Committee Chairman, Phil Nevlud of Marek Brothers Systems, Inc., and asked if the committee ever considered working with high school programs to promote construction as a viable career opportunity. At that point, a partnership was born.

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Member companies on the ABCCC chose to commit their time and resources to the students of Wunsche High School with a goal to provide real-world, hands-on learning experiences to enhance their classroom lessons. Within a year’s time, the students will have seen and executed the various stages required for the completion  of an exterior room.

The first undertaking was hosting a teacher development day with not only a handful of technical teachers, but the entire faculty—from special education to speech and communication. Seven ABC member companies* participated by inviting small groups of teachers to their offices to learn about their companies and the industry  as a whole.

The responses from the teachers were positive, with many able to witness how their classroom instruction can directly apply to a career in construction, and thus  better prepare the students.**
In August 2015, ABCCC spoke to the students to address careers in construction, trade skills, what safety means, and how the students can be successful in  construction. ABCCC also collected donations of an assortment of personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide to the students.

The following month, several ABC members*** facilitated an OSHA 10 Hour class for 127 students. In November 2015, Marek Brothers Systems, Inc. worked with the students to help frame a 10’ by 20’ structure. In February 2016, Karsten Interior Services took the students to the next level by working with them to add 26 sheets of USG sheathing—donated by L&M—to the framing they previously built with Marek Brothers Systems, Inc.


“I’m excited for our students,” Jennifer Boyd, Geometry Teacher for Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, said. “I’m here to teach and help students relate the lessons learned in the classroom to issues they will encounter while on the job. Having ABC members here working with our students helps them to see those correlations in action.”

Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing will lead the next phase of the project by conducting a waterproofing demonstration. The following month, Oxford Builders Inc. will conduct a door hanging demonstration, with materials donated by American Door Products.
For more information contact Callie Fields at c.fields@abchouston.org or (713)-523-6222.

 

* TDIndustries, Holes Incorporated, Marek Brothers System Inc., Oxford Builders, Inc., Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, D.E. Harvey Builders, Inc., E.E. Reed Construction, L.P.
** View the October 2015 issue of Build Houston to learn more about the start of Project Wunsche.
*** Karsten Interior Services, D.E. Harvey Builders, Baker Concrete Construction, Industrial, Safety By Design, and Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing

 

The full list of companies who have donated their time and support to Project Wunsche includes: Baker Concrete Construction, Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, ClarkDietrich, D. Samuels & Associates LLC., Debra B. Norris, P.C., Attorney at Law, D.E. Harvey Builders, Dewalt , Holes Inc., Karsten Interior Services, Marek Brothers Systems, Inc., Oxford Builders Inc., Safety by Design, and TDIndustries.

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