Purdue University students pour buckets of sand, gravel, cement mix and water into a small wading pool inside an industrial arts room at McCutcheon High School, while McCutcheon students use shovels to thoroughly mix the materials together to create the right mixture for concrete forms. The high school civil engineering and architecture class teamed up with a Purdue University construction and engineering management class for this unique hands-on opportunity.
The pouring of the cement mix comes after weeks of collaboration between the two groups. The students were divided into small groups to design small concrete structures such as a fire pit, steps and a Purdue 'P.'
McCutcheon Engineering and Technology teacher Zach McKeever says the students assumed roles in their teams that match career options in the field of construction. "They were responsible for everything from design and safety to cost estimation," says McKeever.
Purdue Director of Internships Brandon Fulk says his students gained experience in design, communication and planning. "I appreciated how my students took charge, but led with a mentoring approach," says Fulk. "The students did a nice job of explaining how to do certain tasks and working alongside them."
McCutcheon junior Abbie Burke says she learned how to mix concrete, create frames and use rebar. "Working with the Purdue students was very interesting," says Abbie. "I feel like both my class and the Purdue class learned a lot from this hands-on experience together."
McKeever and Fulk are hoping this activity and future projects will lay the foundation for the skills students need to pursue careers in engineering and construction.