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Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 1994

HOUSING COURSE GIVES STUDENTS START-TO-FINISH PERSPECTIVE

November 30, 1994

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Fifty-three KU students use more than their heads for a course that centers on construction of a new house.

KU freshman David Mier puts a practical spin on an architectural engineering course that allows students to help build a house east of Lawrence.

"It's better than reading a textbook," he said Tuesday while touring the site at 2732 Ann Court.

Mier, of Lawrence, is participating in a new course that permits KU students to work and observe construction of a $90,000 one-story home.

"The overall goal is to let the students get an overview of the construction industry -- to see a project start to finish," said Clay Belcher, KU associate professor of architectural engineering.

Belcher came up with the idea for a class project last spring. After a bit of maneuvering, he convinced the KU Endowment Association to hook up with a construction management company and make the vision a reality.

"Hands-on experience is a crucial part of the learning process," Belcher said. "This gives students a frame of reference as they go through all their other courses."

The course grade for Mier and 52 other freshmen and sophomores in Belcher's class will be based on the amount of time spent at the site, a journal of their observations, writing assignments and exams.

Students were permitted to be involved in financing, scheduling, construction, field modifications and owner approval decisions.

Johnny Schwaller, Omaha, Neb., freshman, helped frame walls in the bedroom areas. Others students did painting and roofing.

Another freshman, Ben Seep of Ballwin, Mo., said he spent most of his time observing skilled laborers, such as the plumbers, electricians and carpenters.

Construction began in August. The house -- students voted to paint it white -- will have a two-car garage, three bedrooms and a fireplace. The homestead isn't huge, at 1,200 square feet, but includes a vaulted ceiling in the living room.

It should be finished in about a month and placed on the market. Any profit will be held in an account for KU's architectural engineering program. If all goes well, Belcher might repeat the course.

"That's up in the air right now. We'll see," he said.

Belcher said problems with the project to this point included the theft of five windows. There also have been minor delays with materials and manpower, he said.

Trinity Development Corp., a construction management company, is handling the project and hiring subcontractors. Other companies supporting the project: Payless Cashways, Lithonia Lighting, Star Signs, Colorport and University National Bank.

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