Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Houses That Build Students, Launch Careers

In September, 2018, the brick and stucco house that now stands at 2578 South Beagley Circle in West Valley City was little more than a concrete foundation. Associate professor Boyd Johnson was taking a handful of Salt Lake Community College students through the first phases of framing the structure under a blistering summer sun.

It was a similar beginning to many of the homes with a Beagley Circle address. They started out as SLCC project houses built by students, and they’ve ended up as ranch-style homes with full unfinished basements for folks who don’t mind having a few horses for neighbors in this transitioning, once-rural enclave in the Salt Lake Valley.

By this past spring, the final SLCC project house in that area was completed. A few of the proud students who worked on the project showed up for an open house on a cool, breezy day in May. Along with Johnson, instructor Chad Fail and some SLCC support staff from the college’s Construction Management program, they surveyed and admired the culmination of months of hard work.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Ricardo Herrera, looking around a large, sparkling open kitchen and dining area. “I love all of this stuff.”

Herrera, 19, first came to SLCC thinking he was going to take a cabinet-making class. But he heard of the wide range of skills he could learn through the Construction Management curriculum and started thinking bigger. In 2020 he expects to graduate with an associate’s degree in the program. Someday he would like to be a contractor and build or flip homes.

Every Tuesday and Thursday since last summer, Herrera, Brendon Moser and Landon Bangerter, the three students who showed up for the open house, would be at the job site in West Valley City, tools at the ready.

Brendon Moser (l-r), Ricardo Herrera and Landon Bangerter

Moser, 22, had some drafting skills and a bit of construction DNA in his system by way of his uncle and father, but the experience of building a home starting with studs was new to him. Though his future is probably as a fire sprinkler engineer, Moser is certain of one thing. “I’ll build my own home, and I’ll know how to build it right, thanks to Boyd (Johnson),” he says.

“I absolutely loved this program. I loved the interaction between students and teachers, and I loved the program and the way it’s set up. I’ve learned a lot that I can actually use in my life. This program has taught me a lot about how to make money and how to be successful.”

Johnson, who has been with SLCC since 2006, estimates students in that time have worked on about 20 project houses around the Wasatch Front, including Herriman, Park City, Heber and West Jordan. “I see students gain a lot of knowledge and understanding of how construction works,” he says. “I try to keep them involved in every aspect of the build.” Enrollment has been increasing since fiscal year 2015, up from 131 students to 167 in FY 2018. About 10 percent of each student body, Johnson notes, are females. “My biggest goal is to find students a good job so they can make a good living in a career they love,” he adds. “I love to build. That’s the main reason I’m still in it. I just love taking a piece of ground, building a home on it and knowing someone will live in it the rest of their lives.”

Boyd Johnson (right) guides students through the framing process.

Once the houses are complete, usually about one house per year, they’re listed and sold. The previous SLCC project house next door in Beagley Circle sold for about $400,000, a little below the price for this newest listing. The profits from each sale are put into an account to help finance construction of the next house. The lots for the next five project houses are located at about 3200 South and 3000 West in West Valley City.

Moser, who has financed his education at SLCC solely with scholarships, and Bangerter expect to graduate at the end of 2019 with two degrees, associate of applied science and associate of science, both in Construction Management through SLCC’s School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties. Classroom work includes OSHA, law and math, all specific to construction and owning a business. Students gain hands-on experience in framing and finishing carpentry, flooring, drywalling and cabinet making. And upon completion they’re ready for jobs as construction managers, first-line supervisors, carpenters, cost estimators and more.

Bangerter, 26, grew up around residential construction and, in a sense, is earning his stripes through SLCC as he moves up in the family business, Bangerter Homes, where he currently works full time. “I really like homebuilding,” he says. “I’d like to stay in that.”

The students who worked on the Beagley Circle house haven’t ruled out more school, possibly a four-year degree. They’ll miss epic lunches with their new buddy, Boyd, now that the home is finished. And they’ll continue telling friends, family, anyone who will listen, about SLCC’s program. “With a program like this, with hands-on experience, you can actually make money from this knowledge,” Moser says. “There a lot of opportunities in this Construction Management program to help kids get the degree and make money.”

Thursday, May 16, 2019

West Side Story Thrills at Grand Theatre

The dance numbers are epic and the singing is spectacular in the Grand Theatre production of West Side Story at Salt Lake Community College's South City Campus May 16 to June 8.

With the music of Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim that devotees of this musical love and by which newcomers will be hooked, this musical transports audiences to 1950s New York City. The story borrows from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as two young lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs. The struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time. The production is rated PG-13 for mature themes.

Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays. The Grand offers discounts for groups, veterans, SLCC students, staff and faculty and also for junior high and high school students. For information about tickets to West Side Story, click here.

Below are a few photos from a dress rehearsal.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Staff Help Facilities Beautify Campuses

Each spring administration and staff members at Salt Lake Community College pitch in to help the Facilities team plant annuals at campuses throughout the Salt Lake Valley for Beautification Day. Here are a few highlights from the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.

SLCC President Dr. Deneece G. Huftalin

Monday, May 13, 2019

College Partners with Swiss Rail Company for New Career Path

U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Edward McMullen (center) and officials with Stadler Rail visit Westpointe.

Salt Lake Community College is poised to be a model around the country for its unique workforce training partnership with Swiss-based Stadler Rail and Salt Lake City School District, according to Edward McMullen, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland.

McMullen and other Swiss officials recently visited SLCC’s Westpointe Workforce Training & Education Center to hear David Schlaepfer, assistant to the CEO at Stadler, explain how the new Talent Ready Apprenticeship Connection (TRAC) program will work.

Stadler, which is expanding its rail car manufacturing operations with a new U.S. facility in the Salt Lake Valley, will need to hire hundreds of personnel from Utah’s workforce. TRAC partners, with support from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will tap into high schools to attract seniors interested in a career with Stadler as one of two types of technicians. Qualifying students will work half the time at Stadler and spend the other half finishing high school, emphasizing curriculum in math, physics, materials and drawing technology and engineering. The first cohort of 16 seniors will start the program this fall and eventually work on finishing production of electric rail cars that will replace diesel trains currently used for California’s Caltrain system.

Once finished with high school, students will continue their training and education with Stadler and SLCC, switching to about 70 percent work and 30 percent school. In the third year of employment with Stadler, the ratio moves to 80 percent work to 20 percent school, which culminates with an associate of applied science degree from SLCC. The curriculum and those specific work/school ratios, Schlaepfer noted, follows a successful method used throughout Switzerland to train young workers there.

During their senior year in high school, students in the TRAC program can expect to make $10 per hour or about $800 a month. They move up to $11.50 per hour and then $13 per hour by the second and third years in the program, eligible for bonuses each year. Once fully employed by Stadler, graduates of the program are projected to earn about $3,800 per month, excluding bonuses and benefits. There will also be opportunities to continue on for a four-year degree with tuition assistance from Stadler.

Rick Bouillon (left) answers questions about Westpointe.

McMullen said the challenge in generating interest in the TRAC program, as well as other workforce development programs in states throughout the country, is changing popular public perception that the only path to a successful, well-paying career is through a university.

SLCC Provost, Dr. Clifton Sanders, added that the kind of technology-based training and education students receive at Westpointe, or the “T” in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is “undersold” and is really the connective element for many workforce careers, including those that can be found with Stadler. Partnerships like the TRAC program, he said, are reflective of “where the culture of education is and should be going.” Sanders added, “Community colleges sit at the interface between yesterday and tomorrow.” Rick Bouillon, who started SLCC Division of Workforce & Economic Development, said of the convergence of the TRAC program and the newly opened Westpointe facility, “…really, the timing couldn’t have been better.”

 David Schlaepfer, assistant to the CEO at Stadler Rail, explains the TRAC program.