September 13, 2013 12:00AM
Up until this week, neither Sara Marquette nor Tim Stephens had operated a mini-excavator or skid-steer. So when presented the opportunity to get their hands on that equipment and more this week, both were a little nervous.
"It's definitely a new experience," said Marquette, a junior construction management major, said. "Being at the helm of a 22-ton piece of equipment isn't something you do every day in school."
Stephens, also a junior, admitted to also being a "bit hesitant" about running the equipment, which was part of a lab day for construction management students in assistant professor Seth O'Brien's methods course.
"It helps," Stephens said, "that we're all out here doing this at the same time. We're all doing this for the first time, and I think everyone it a little nervous about it. It's a wonderful experience, though, to come out and get a true feel for what we talk about in class."
More than 100 students took part in the activity, which was aimed at giving students a hands-on experience that will benefit them once they are in the workforce.
"There is only so much you can learn from a book," O'Brien said. "We teach a lot of things inside the classroom, but until you go outside and put that knowledge to use, the education isn't complete. We're fortunate to be able to present this opportunity for our students to come out, get behind the controls and get their hands dirty, so to speak."