Teacher : Randy Granger

The construction industry is in need of qualified workers to replenish the work force members who have reached retirement age. Apparently more construction workers are retiring than are entering the field. By integrating new technology into teaching construction trades, perhaps more students will be interested in joining the profession.

Today's construction work force has a new scope of tools, machinery, and materials available to them in this era. Not only are tools and materials designed to work more efficiently, but computer designs are now available that can cut work times, wait times for drawings to arrive, and problem solving times for solutions to problems. Computer-driven construction designs and execution is revolutionizing the entire industry.
The high school students who want to enter the construction trades need to be taught using the latest curriculum models and hands-on training to fulfill the needs of today's construction teams.

As I entered this new career of teaching at Donaldson Career Center after 45+ years of construction work, I realized that the School District of Greenville County is abreast of this need and Donaldson Career Center is working very hard to continue with the programs that will assure the goals that have been set by the District.

My course is Construction Enterprises, and the students are taught safety, methods of construction, materials for the trade, planning and design of projects by computer-based programs and videos, and hands-on training. Students have the ability to use the school computers to review safety issues of each of the machines/saws and hand tools. After the presentation, a hands-on instruction is provided by the team of instructors. This gives us the ability to observe the methods used, to team teach, and to further guide the students as necessary to assure their competency in the use of machinery and tools.

Students are introduced to math for the trades. For example, I teach them to use the age-old Framing Square, the "slide rule of the carpenter," and students are assigned to a team to lay out a building, set the spacing of floor joists, studs, ceiling joists, and rafters. This hands-on method has helped several students to comprehend the way fractions are used along with decimals and the conversions of each. I have noted that the students learning the use of the framing square to convert fractions of an inch to a decimal were able to visualize the fraction, along with the decimal. If the calculation were to be wrong, they were able to recall the information and knew to redo the problem.

Our school is in the process of purchasing Promethean Boards for all classes that will help us to further integrate technology into the career curriculums. It teaches units of measurement and is pre-loaded with images that will help me teach the various tools, parts of tools and machinery, and also increments of measurement. It will accept new digital images as well so that I can display the image of a new piece of equipment for all to see and teach it at one time. The ability to show one large ruler at one time to a large group is a time-saving advancement in teaching units of measurement.

Once the students have learned to calculate the spacing and lengths of materials on the building, students are taught to use the calculator or computer with its programs to do the same. In existing construction, one example of using new technology is the electronic wire finder. It uses an electronic beep (voltage spike) to follow the transmitting beep along a wall or floor to locate the path or end of a circuit in order to trace wire behind a wall or underneath a floor.

Also, we teach students to use the electronic measuring tape to find the length of a wall or object without the use of the steel hand-held tape measure.

With the Promethean Board we will have the ability to interchange designs rapidly to compare the different ways the project could be utilized to the best advantage. For example, we could manipulate the floor plan of a house by sizing the rooms and locating them to give the best path for travel between rooms as well as aesthetics. In a kitchen or bath, we could use the Promethean Board to help best place the refrigerator, stove and sink, or bathtub, shower, and lavatory to save steps and be convenient for the home owner.
With the computer and software, the students can write specifications, work plans, and research information for the layout of projects. This gives the students the ability to learn to complete site layout, job estimation, and project presentation with the use of computer skills.

Students will then work on their entrepreneurial skills to study
1. Business Organizations.
2. Writing a business plan.
3. Business licenses, tax information and operations,
insurance, government regulations (OSHA) Workers Comp.
4. Management skills, communication
Students will learn to prepare plans, specifications and orders and then present them to fellow students as a project under construction with a time-line to completion.

By incorporating technology into careers, the students will have the latest technology to learn the skills necessary to be competitive in construction trades. Students will be able to decide on a project, plan the job, draw up the plans and specifications, estimate the job, acquire the knowledge to file for permits, communicate with owners (students) and estimate the total cost for completion.