What started out as a secondary cabinet-making program quickly morphed into a full-blown construction technology program for students that, nearly 20 years later, offers classes in everything from carpentry and masonry work to print-reading and job-cost estimating.
Graduates follow one of two paths. They advance directly into the work force in a variety of building trades or move on to a four-year institution to complete their studies for a construction management degree.
Some students who come to OTC to study construction technology do so with scholarships provided by various construction and home-building trade groups including, but not limited to, the Springfield Contractors Association, the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield, the Greater Ozarks Building Systems Association and Southwest Missouri Code Officials.
The program has produced numerous award-winning students who have regularly finished in the Top 10 in the national SkillsUSA competition, which pits the top students from across the country against each other in a variety of construction categories.
OTC’s “If I Had a Hammer” program, funded with a grant from the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, exposed students in the seventh through ninth grades to the construction industry. It also helped them improve math and science skills through the construction of a small house.
In addition to serving students, the construction program responds to the needs of the business community with specific training programs.
The Construction Readiness Program, which offered those without a job or in need of new skills a chance to be trained in some aspect of construction work, was developed at the request of the local industry leaders.
The construction technology program extends its skills off campus through a number of volunteer programs and projects. Construction students have worked with the HBA and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, building miniature houses to be used for fundraising.
Students have volunteered for the local Habitat For Humanity chapter, and when the “Extreme Makeover” TV program came to the area to build a local family a new home, many of the workers and subcontractors were OTC construction graduates and students.
The construction technology program is moving into the future with an eye on the green jobs that are being created in the industry. Classes are being developed to teach students the skills needed in the field of construction trades that will emphasize sustainability and green building practices in the construction industry.
While the program at OTC has been in place for many years, it continues to evolve into an important part of the area’s construction landscape.
David Aderhold is an instructor and construction division chairman at Ozarks Technical Community College. For more information, visit www.otc.edu/construction-catalog.php.
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