'Build My Future' Event Gives Students Hands-On Construction Experience

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[caption id="attachment_15026" align="alignright" width="300"] Executives from NAHB, Cedar Rapids HBA, Greater Iowa City Area HBA, HBA of Iowa, HBA of Des Moines, and the National Housing Endowment at the event.[/caption] Two Iowa HBAs recently held an event designed to teach the next generation of home builders valuable skills and shrink the home building industry’s skilled workforce gap. The inaugural Build My Future-ACE Career Day & Industry Showcase, hosted by the ACE Sector Board, was held at Jones Hall on the Cedar Rapids Kirkwood Community College campus. Sponsors were Hills Bank and Trust Company, Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association’s (HBA) Vocational Training Council, Cedar Rapids HBA and Kirkwood Community College. More than 150 seventh- and eighth-grade students from nine different junior high and middle schools in three Eastern Iowa counties learned construction trade skills through 15 interactive, hands-on exhibits. Volunteers from HBA-member companies directed and inspired the future home builders. The fun included hammering nails for roofing carpentry, piecing together plumbing, operating heavy equipment, building a wall with brick and mortar, drywalling and more. Students also learned about architecture and engineering careers during educational sessions and toured a tiny house. "I liked that we got to do a bunch of things in different areas," said Kennady Breitfelder, an eighth-grader from Springville. Her classmate Emerson Ripple’s favorite exhibit was the tiny house. "It was interesting and reduces space," she said. [caption id="attachment_15027" align="alignleft" width="300"] At the event, students race to install caps on a 6 ft. x 4 ft. water main cross that helps send water to homes.[/caption] Exposing young people to the construction trade in an interactive way presents students early in their schooling an alternative path to a four-year college degree and allows them test-drive different careers. "Informing kids while they’re in junior high allows them time to learn more about the field, find what piques their interests and explore throughout high school how it can be a viable choice for them," said ACE Sector board member Tim Ruth of McCreedy-Ruth Construction, whose company taught kids how to build housing frames at the event. The Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area Build My Future is one of four events being held across Iowa this spring. Others are through the Quad Cities Home Builders and Remodelers Association; HBA of Greater Des Moines and HBA of Greater Siouxland. Elsewhere around the country, the Columbia County Builders Association in Lake City, Fla., hosted its inaugural Build My Future event last month. Approximately 300 teenagers in grades nine through 12 participated in learning labs featuring welding, flooring, foundation work and heavy equipment operations. The event generated significant interest in the community and garnered local media coverage. The BA has scheduled another event this fall. NAHB has a variety of workforce development resources to help HBAs and members promote residential construction careers in their local communities. For more information contact Greg Zick.

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