On Oct. 30, things got a little spooky in the Construction Technology workshop at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC).
As part of an annual trick-or-treat event at CGCC, the construction technology class has combined some of its curriculum with spooky fun by building a haunted house and corn maze to give local kids a fun pre-Halloween experience.
“It’s something we built last year,” Construction Technology Lead Instructor Glenn Wood said. “It’s a big, safe place for kids to come up and trick-or-treat in a safe environment.”
Walking into the workshop, trick-or-treaters were met with a tiny (haunted) house where they could knock on the door and receive a treat, before heading to the corn maze to play a round of ski ball, then around the bend for some mini golf, and ended the maze with a scarecrow photo op.
“We used our whole work area over there to the left, and there’s a sidewalk pour with all these little curvy lines and inlets and circular walkways, and all this fun stuff, which we could use as a form for concrete class,” Wood said.
The program itself is broken up into two nine-month courses, “building” and “finishing.” The building course, according to the CGCC website, focuses on general carpentry skills, with students working “with many specialty tools and materials, gaining knowledge and skills related to: Structural timbers, stick framing, roof framing, labor estimation, installation of lap siding, architectural roofing as well as interior/exterior finishes.”
The finishing course focuses on finishing carpentry skills, with students learning “a wide range of skills needed to be successful in the construction trades whether they be concrete, framing, roofing, exterior finishes and everything in between.” Finish carpentry, according to the website, focuses on the many small woodworking details that go into completing the interior of a space.
With no necessary order, construction students have the freedom to take one course or the other, and can decide if they want to continue into the workforce or return for the second course.
“You can leave here after nine months and you can go out into the industry, we should be able to get you a job around $20 an hour, which is pretty good,” Wood said. “If you want to come back [for the second course] … it gives you the possibility to come back and maybe make $25 – $30 an hour.”
According to Wood, while most students go into the construction trade, there are a lot of other possible career pathways after completing the course. “Some of them are interested in getting their contractor’s license … some of them go work for electricians and plumbers, some go work for hotels to help manage and maintain those structures,” he said. “A lot of them go home and work on their own projects, which is great.”
When asked about her experience in the course, second-year student Kailee Durant said the course helped teach her confidence and leadership skills. “I used to be shy but now I speak up, ask a lot of questions,” said Durant. “[With] some of the new students, I’ll go around and help them if I see them struggling, or if there’s something going on, I’ll go over there and help make sure they correct it, because I made the same mistake.”
Knowing the traditional college route wasn’t something she wanted to take, Durant attended and graduated Job Corps for painting training, though she gravitated towards the construction trade. “I’ve always wanted to do construction,” said Durant. “I’d seen on Facebook that they had this program here, and I signed up within two weeks before school started, it was just right on time.”
“I would say the people who gravitate towards this program are people that are unhappy with where they are, and whatever they’re doing, some have a second chance at life,” Wood said, “It’s not for the squeamish … I kind of let people know that they’re going to get pushed in this class to see what they’re really capable of. We all have our own self-imposed limitations and some things we bring to the table some things that we set for ourselves. But the key is that we work through that, we don’t let that dictate our future and we focus on what our overall goal is, which is learning how to be carpenters and builders.
“We’re about giving people opportunities and a chance to shine,” Wood said.