By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor
Planning and designs for the covered shelters for CNM’s smoking sections have been submitted, and they will be fabricated and constructed by none other than the school’s own welding students, Welding instructor, Ron Hackney said.
The “smoking shacks” will be built by students of the Project Fabrication class, one of the final courses before Welding students test for their certificates, and they plan to build one to two shelters each semester the class is offered, Hackney said.
“These are folks who are already ready to graduate. Over three quarters of them are already certified welders, by industry standards, so they are pretty advanced students,” Hackney said.
Hackney said the project will be a great opportunity for his students to get real world experience, being responsible for every aspect of a project, from planning and materials to fabrication and installation.
Executive Director of Multi-campus Operations Jennifer Cornish said that the idea for the project came from discussions about the best way to create the smoking shelters they had promised to install after the new smoking policy was implemented.
“Since the inception of the new smoking policy, we knew that we needed to provide some shelter, if not all, than at least most of the smoking sections,” Cornish said.
A team was assembled to design and make the specifications for the shelters, and Cornish said the school’s architect had the idea to ask if the Welding department would be interested in creating them.
Thomas “Hass” Saunders, Welding major and work study lab assistant, was the student who actually created the designs for the shelters as part of his class work, he said.
“It is essentially a bus stop with a couple of modifications made to it,” Saunders said.
Saunders took measurements of existing bus stop designs and CNM locations, designed the “smoking shack” on a CAD (computer aided drafting) program and made physical blueprints, created a list of materials, and then got quotes for material costs, he said.
Saunders, who helps students with their class work as part of his work study job, said he feels the project will be a lot more valuable and fun for the students than their normal projects.
“It takes a whole different meaning to welding. Instead of just doing different positions all day, now we can actually build something, and it makes the students feel good at the same time,” Saunders said.
In addition to benches and a covered awning to protect smokers from the elements, the shelters will have perforated walls for ventilation, and so Security can easily see inside, Cornish said.
Another important feature will be solar panels on the roofs of each shelter, to power lights that will shine in the evenings, she said.
“We can’t run electricity out to all the shelters; that would have made it too expensive. But we want to make sure that they are safely lit,” Cornish said.
They would also like the openings of the shelters to be facing toward the south, so that in the summer the sun will generally be at the back and the smokers will have more shade, she said.
Cornish said that the school’s Sustainability Team will be meeting with members of the Welding department sometime this week to go over the final details of the project, and to see if any of the locations around the school’s many campuses will require any alterations to the original designs.
“I think it’s a really wonderful opportunity for our students to participate as a learning project, and it meets the needs of the students who want to use the smoking areas, and it is a sustainability project,” Cornish said.
Hackney said that since the plan is for the Welding program to eventually build a shelter for every smoking section on every campus, the project will likely become a major part of the curriculum for the Project Fabrication class for some time.
He said that while the instructors will act as quality control, setting specifications and inspecting each shelter on completion, the students will essentially be in charge of the project from start to finish.
“We have to make sure as an educational institution that the students actually use it as a learning outcome. It’s not like we’re trying to get free labor, we want to make sure that they can actually learn from it,” Hackney said.
In addition to the experience for students, this project will also help the Welding department save some money, because the materials will be paid for out of a special budget created for the smoking sections.
Normally project costs come out of the Welding program’s budget, which is strained as it is, so Hackney said it is nice to be able to save a little money while giving his students a great project.
“It certainly helps, because every department gets billed for its metal, and it’s pretty expensive. But in the end, somebody’s got to pay for it, so we have to make sure that we don’t waste metal and things like that,” Hackney said.
Saunders said that as a student, he agrees that none of the students feel they are being taken advantage of, and that they are happy to be building something of value that will be used by people on campus for years to come.
“This is not free labor, this is essentially a great learning experience. In a nutshell, it’s kind of the students’ way of giving back to their school,” Saunders said.