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Student group honored for Joplin rebuilding project

October 05, 2012 12:00AM

A PSU volunteer works at the rebuilding of Cunningham Park in Joplin in 2011.

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America has honored the Pittsburg State University AGC Student Chapter with a second place award in its national Outstanding Student Chapter recognition. The AGC supports nearly 200 student chapters nationwide.

The AGC Outstanding Student Chapter Awards single out student chapters that undertake projects that benefit their local communities. The PSU chapter was selected because of the collective efforts of all PSU volunteers and student organizations who worked on the “Extreme Makeover Home Edition Project” in Joplin, Mo., in 2011.

In a letter announcing the award, AGC Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Sandherr praised the PSU chapter and the university.

“To work with ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team to build seven homes in seven days is an outstanding example of community service,” Sandherr wrote. “With more than 104 PSU students and faculty volunteering their time over the fall break, we know that Pittsburg State is instilling in its students the dedication and commitment they will need to succeed in the construction industry and we look forward to their participation!”

For the massive construction project, PSU students worked as all-around construction support teams for each of the seven homes performing numerous building tasks from framing to finish carpentry activities. They developed job site hazard analyses and were responsible for on-site safety and OSHA compliance. The volunteers managed material inventorying and staging as well as unloading, handling and transportation of building materials for the seven homes. An additional 58 construction students and faculty volunteered for the "Tyvek" crew to wrap all seven houses in less than 24 hours.

Just prior to the build in Joplin, 12 PSU volunteers traveled to Pinckneyville, Ill., to participate in the construction of a modular house, which was then shipped to Joplin as two large sections and lifted onto the prepared foundation.

In addition to working on the seven homes, the PSU volunteers played a large role in the reconstruction of nearby Cunningham Park.

In total, PSU students and faculty volunteered more than 13,200 hours.

For a number of construction engineering and construction management seniors, the Joplin build was a capstone project. Although all of the volunteers gained valuable real-world experience, the value of the project was much more personal than getting a grade or sharpening a skill.

"It means a lot to me. I've got a lot of friends and family in Joplin,” said Michael Halsey, a senior in construction management. “To be able to help out like this is amazing. I know seven houses doesn't seem like much, but for those families, it's a new life for them.”

Representatives of PSU’s AGC Student Chapter will give a presentation about their service at the annual national AGC student chapter meeting next March in Palm Springs, Calif.

©2012 Pittsburg State University