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ATC's Construction Academy lends a hand to Habitat

Albany Technical College students Jermie McLaughlin (left) and Kenneth Taylor prepare to cut a piece of plywood Tuesday as ATC’s Carlton Construction Academy students worked on two Habitat for Humanity Homes.

Albany Technical College students Jermie McLaughlin (left) and Kenneth Taylor prepare to cut a piece of plywood Tuesday as ATC’s Carlton Construction Academy students worked on two Habitat for Humanity Homes.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany Technical College Carpentry and Construction Chair Wayne Barnett sweltered in Tuesday's midday sun, mixing orders, lessons and encouragement to several of his Albany Tech students working on two Habitat for Humanity homes.

photo

Terry Lewis

Wayne Barnett, (far right) chair of Albany Technical College’s carpentry and construction management program, instructs student Cassandra Brown on the use of a miter saw during work on a Habitat for Humanity project Tuesday.

Nearly 30 of ATC's Carlton Construction Academy students have volunteered their sweat and services to help finish two Habitat projects on Rosebrier Avenue in Albany.

Students from the college's carpentry, air conditioning technology, building maintenance, masonry and plumbing programs are using the skills they have learned in school to gain real-world experience while providing a service to the community.

"This is the first time as a class we have worked on a Habitat home," Barnett said. "In the past, we've had several who have volunteered to work as individuals, but this is the first time for an official class."

Barnett said the experience his students will gain from their two-day effort will go a long way in furthering their education.

"You can spend all the time you want in a lab, and it can never replace the hands-on experience," Barnett said. "Like what is the proper tool to use in a certain situation? For example, you don't use a circular saw or a table saw to cut trim -- you use a miter saw. But it usually only takes one or two times before they get that.

"How to measure cuts of wood from a 4 x 8 (foot) piece of plywood when the cut has to be exact. Work off the ends and also for the width of a 3/16-inch saw blade."

Barnett said his students are quick studies.

"Today is really just prep work to learn the basics," he said. "We'll get twice as much done tomorrow because they will understand the basics, then it's really just a matter of repetition. There is a lot more to Albany Tech than students just showing up to sit in a classroom."

"We made this into a two-day event in order to assist Habitat in completing these two homes for two families in need," said Emmett Griswold, dean of the Carlton Construction Academy at Albany Tech.

Griswold said the projects are not just a means for live work for the students, but a meaningful way to give back to their community and learn the importance of community service.

For the past three years, the Construction Academy at Albany Tech has held a G.I.R.L.S. (Gumption Innovation Leadership Service) Camp for high school students, which was designed to teach females interested in pursuing a career in the construction field the basics of carpentry, electrical wiring, electromechanical engineering, and heating and air conditioning technology.

As part of the camp, students were able to volunteer time painting and landscaping new Habitat homes in the area.

"I am learning a lot and have been practicing by doing stuff around the house," Kacatresa McClinton, a member of G.I.R.L.S. and a third-semester carpentry student, said. "I want to learn to do stuff for myself, and the more time I spend in the program I can see myself doing this as a profession."

First-year student Jermie McLaughin agreed.

"I love learning from Mr. Barnett; he is teaching me a lot," McLaughin said. "Everything is knowledge, and I am trying to gather as much as I can right now because it's all new to me."