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BCT frames student success

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PCC is really putting its $700,000 National Science Foundation grant to work. In three years, the Rock Creek Campus “Framing Student Success” project, funded by the NSF grant, has created two sustainable structures.

The Building Construction Technology program designed “green” structures where local high school students learned about green construction from faculty and area experts. Last year, students completed work on a straw bale weather station sealed with clay. It retains heat in the winter and cool air in the summer and costs about a fraction of traditional home building techniques.

This year, 12 students and five high school teachers worked hard to make a garden shed for the Rock Creek Campus community garden. The structure is temporary and can be moved depending on campus needs. Unlike the weather station, the garden shed was built with a technique that mixes straw with clay. PCC construction students built the frame for the high school students, who then filled in the rest with the straw-clay mixture.

“It’s something that is easily demonstrated,” said Lydia Doleman, the lead BCT faculty on the project. “It blends modern construction technology with alternative construction. It’s a natural building technique anyone can do and is a great hands-on learning project for the students.”

In “Framing Student Success,” the high school participants start out designing plans of their project and make miniature models to present to PCC faculty. The second year, they build the project and in the final year they participate in an internship within the construction industry.

“The best part about this is that we’re actually building a building out of mud and it really works,” said Kyle Brainard, a 17-year-old student at Franklin High School. “I like the idea of ‘green’ buildings.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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