Mark Albers, associate professor of industrial studies at UW–Platteville, is managing 28 employees as they build a high quality, ranch-style home in less than a year.
These employees are unique — they are senior UW–Platteville students who entered the project with little to no hands-on experience.
Over the last 20 years, UW–Platteville students in the building construction management program taking a senior capstone course have built 18 homes for members of the Platteville community, the majority of whom are UW–Platteville employees.
During this experience, UW–Platteville students learn about many aspects of building a house, including drafting, construction estimating, construction scheduling, contract law, heating, and cooling and plumbing systems.
“The students do not do the concrete, mechanical and electrical plumbing, painting, flooring or finishing,” said Albers. “They watch subcontractors do that work, because in order to perform those tasks you need to be specially certified.”
This year, the students are building a home that is 1,668 square feet on the first floor for Mark Miner, safety management program coordinator of industrial studies, and his wife.
“The entire experience has been awesome,” said Miner. “Not only is my family getting a quality house built, but students at UW–Platteville are getting an experience they will never forget.”
Prior to the start date of the build, Matt Mayer, a senior industrial technology management major from Appleton, was selected to work with the client to design a blueprint of their dream home.
“We select a student who wants to put in the extra hours and is a good student,” said Albers. “They meet with the clients the year before and go through all the house plan options. They re-draw the house around 10 times because the homeowner needs to the see the floor plan, think about it and come back with new ideas.”
Although the goal of the course is to construct a homeowner’s dream home, there are certain modifications that need to be met in order to ensure students’ safety. Students are also thoroughly trained by safety professionals from UW–Platteville before they begin construction, and always have a harness and fall-system in place.
During the fall semester, students focus on building the structure of the home, which includes layout and design, tipping up of the structure of the home, and roofing. UW–Platteville students taking the spring semester of the capstone course will focus on the interior of the house.
“At the end of January, the students will walk into the shell of the building,” said Albers. “It will be unheated, un-insulated and have temporary lighting. They will start insulating, working on vapor barriers, hang drywall, install doors and hang the kitchen cabinets.”
Following the completion of the house there will be a thorough cleanup, and Miner and his wife will walk into their new home built by UW–Platteville students.
“To have the opportunity to watch these young people take so much pride in their work, put countless extra hours in, including many Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes with snow dripping down the back of their coats was incredible,” said Miner. “All of this brings out the true meaning of ‘Every Day is a Great Day to be a Pioneer.’”