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Lake Land opens Building Construction Technology Workshop
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Lake Land opens Building Construction Technology Workshop

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MATTOON — Before enrolling in Lake Land College's freshman basic carpentry class this fall, some students with outdoor jobs had gotten experience with how foul weather can delay a project or make working miserable.

Consequently, student Nick Roepke of Altamont said he and his classmates are thankful to be able to learn and work indoors year round in the new Building Construction Technology Workshop at Lake Land.

"You don't have to stop and pause around the weather," Roepke said. He added that, "Actually being able to have a climate-controlled environment is nice. You can focus on what is going on rather than 'My dang feet are cold.'"

The workshop opened this fall in a new 5,500-square-foot maintenance and file storage building that Lake Land constructed on the southwest side of campus, next to the Physical Plant and the Agriculture Land Lab.

Building construction technology instructor and coordinator Neal Haarman said his classes previously had a small work space in the corner of the Ag-Tech Building. He said they focused on outdoor projects, such as building a new structure last year at the baseball field.

"Now we have a place where we can store all our tools and equipment in one spot," Haarman said, adding that he and his students appreciate that they have gained a heated work space.

Haarman said he started holding classes in the Building Construction Technology Workshop earlier this fall while the facility was still under construction.

The basic carpentry class students have built practice sheds in the workshop. The sheds have wood frames and trussed roofs, and will later get siding, drywall, trim, and flooring. The students will ultimately tear down the sheds so the building materials can be reused.

Haarman said all of his students are getting a chance to install doors and windows within the practice sheds, whereas outdoor projects such as the baseball field building needed few installations and required a tight schedule.

"We can slow the work down a little bit and everyone can get involved and make sure we do it the right way," Haarman said.

Student Ethan Orman of Marshall said he "can't sit still" and does not want to stay in a classroom all day, so he is glad to get to learn while working on projects in the new workshop.

Classmate Chaz Dickerson of Lancaster, Ohio, who is a Laker baseball player, said he decided to enroll in the basic carpentry class after his coach told him last year about the hands-on construction opportunities there.

"That is the best way to learn in carpentry, to get in and get hands on," Roepke said.

The basic carpentry class is part of academic programs in which students can earn a one year certificate in building construction or a two year associate's in building construction technology.

Haarman said the skills that his carpentry students will eventually work with in this versatile program include blueprint reading this semester, drafting and residential wiring next semester, and estimating and project management during their sophomore year.

"When they graduate from here, they are going to have a lot of options," Haarman said. "We don't have any trouble placing the students. They all get jobs right out of school."

Contact Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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