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This summer, 11 students had the opportunity to try their hand at several construction trades including carpentry, plumbing, heavy equipment operations, electrical/solar, HVAC, OSHA 10, print reading, and heavy equipment operations, as well as receive assistance with resume writing and career readiness at Harford Community College. The Summer Construction Trades Academy at HCC was created to give students the ability to see which, if any, of these trades would click with them and subsequently lead to employment or continued training. Grants from the College and the Building Congress & Exchange Foundation offset most of the tuition costs for students to attend.

The students were engaged in hands-on activities and used creative thought processes to design and build their own projects, such as a small table and a cart with wheels. They were presented with various challenges; in the plumbing class, for example, each student learned to install a toilet. Heavy equipment students visited the Alban/CAT showroom in Rosedale. Students also completed the federally recognized OSHA 10-Hour certification training and became certified.

On the last day of the Academy, representatives from Harford County Electrical Contractors Association’s Electrical Apprenticeship program and the Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland’s HVAC apprenticeship program presented their programs. In addition, local construction companies talked with the students about employment opportunities. One participant, Zachary Wagner, has already interviewed for the Electrical Apprenticeship program and plans to attend this fall. Two other participants plan to apply to the Electrical Apprenticeship program after graduating from high school next year. Another participant, Dante Brown, plans to enroll in the Heavy Equipment Operations program next year after graduating high school.

According to JeanMarie Lewis, Assistant Director for Workforce Development, “The Summer Construction Trades Academy is a great way to sample a variety of trades to see what is exciting and interesting. Sometimes it takes getting your hands into something before you can really decide if it’s for you. Participants learn about apprenticeship programs that offer on the job training combined with classroom training. The nice thing about apprenticeships is that you can learn a trade and become certified without accruing debt because you get paid as you learn.”

Darnell Wills, Youth Services coordinator and instructor for carpentry and plumbing, offered that “this program was a great opportunity for students to explore theory, gain applied hands-on experience with tools and materials, and attend meet-and-greet sessions with professionals in the trades.” As their instructor for carpentry and plumbing, Darnell further remarked, “The students came to class ready to create memorable, take-home projects that ranged from beverage coasters made from wood to lamps, dart boards, utility carts, coffee tables, shadow boxes, and a saddle seat! The students also competed for bragging rights on the quickest installation of a pedestal sink and a toilet. It was my pleasure to assist the students in training for their career choice.”

The Academy will be offered again in summer 2019. Contact JeanMarie Lewis, 443-412-2337 or jmlewis@harford.edu for more information.

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