Students Get Real-World Construction Experience in Their Own Parking Lot

Workforce Development
Published
Contact: Greg Zick
gzick@nahb.org
AVP, Workforce Development
(202) 266-8493

Throughout Careers and Technical Education Month® in February, NAHB will be featuring inspiring workforce development stories from members, HBAs, students and technical education faculty.

In promoting the skilled trades to a new generation, the Structural Design and Fabrication course at Roxbury High School, in Succasunna, N.J., gives students the opportunity to construct a modular home in the school’s parking lot. In just over two years, the students had successfully completed a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home and ultimately decided to donate it to a disadvantaged family in their community.

The course goes beyond the basics of design and construction to teach students of all experience levels about every aspect of residential construction. Students rotate roles and take on different challenges to develop their abilities to use their hands and communicate with others as future professionals. In gathering resources for the project, including roofing and electrical, the school worked with local businesses and the Morris Habitat for Humanity.

“Our entire community rallied around helping us complete the home, and we’re seeing the same support as we begin work on a second home,” said Frank Caccavale, structural design and fabrication instructor at Roxbury High School. “We’ve had people offering their time to teach invaluable skills to our students, donating products and funds to complete the project, and being incredible supporters helping to promote the skilled trades to our students.”

The course begins with rigorous safety instruction that eventually leads to OSHA 10 certification. Caccavale teaches students how to use tools and materials properly, and instills a culture of safety, accountability and trust as the students work together to complete the home.

Establishing this culture has led Roxbury to win the NAHB Safety Award for Excellence (SAFE).

“Safety is the single most important thing we can teach our students in a hands-on trades course,” Caccavale said. “Receiving this award is a tremendous honor, and I look forward to continuing to enhance our safety as we prepare more students to enter an essential and fulfilling industry.”

Caccavale credits much of the program’s success to his collaboration with the Metropolitan Builders and Contractors Association of New Jersey. Not only have members who have gotten involved with the class helped through donating their time and expertise, they have also helped inspire more students to pursue rewarding careers in construction.

“Building this home has been empowering, and it’s created a bond among our class,” said Tommy McGlynn, a senior at Roxbury planning to pursue a career in architecture. “It’s exciting to apply math and science into real-world situations, like finding and using cost- and climate-friendly materials. You can’t find this sort of experience in any other class.”

Learn more about how HBAs across the country are leading workforce development initiatives by signing up for the bimonthly Workforce Development Champions Corner newsletter.

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