Even if they do not choose to enter the construction industry, the 18 carpentry students at Belmont-Harrison Career Center will gain skills that allow them to accomplish manual tasks that many cannot.
"Even if they don't go into carpentry for a career, they will have this as a valuable life skill," instructor Paul Bickmeier said while observing his students in the laboratory classroom. "They will know how to do things most people can't."
Now in his 25th year teaching at the career center, Bickmeier said the opportunities for work in the construction industry throughout the Upper Ohio Valley abound.
"Everywhere you look in this area, there are new hotels going up," he said in reference to the many facilities constructed during the last few years amid the Marcellus and Utica shale boom.
"These students will have an excellent opportunity to earn a great living when they are done here," Bickmeier added. "They learn roofing, wiring, drywall and a little bit of plumbing."
According to the career center, junior carpentry students receive training in aspects of equipment usage and safety. Students also develop the ability to use hand tools while successfully constructing several small projects, such as a sawhorse, without using power equipment.
"Their first project is a sawhorse," Bickmeier said. "Then they move on to more complex work."
During the senior year, students construct a modular home. This project allows students to demonstrate skills they have already learned while also developing new skills. The modular home is put up for auction or sold through a realtor at the end of the school year.
"We have one here for sale. We are marketing it through Harvey Goodman Realtor," Bickmeier said of the modular home. "It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a combined dining room and kitchen, and a living room."
For more information on the career center, visit www.BHCCenters.com.