Electrician students learn their trade on new construction

TACOMA, Wash. –When Bates Technical College instructor Dave Leenhouts approached Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity eight years ago, he hoped to forge a partnership. Today, that partnership has helped yield 50 affordable homes for families in our area.

“My goal was to be able to educate our electrician students on the newest technology in energy efficient homes and new construction,” said Leenhouts, who teaches the nine-quarter Electrical Construction program. “This fall, we’ll begin work on our 50th house—a major milestone for us.”

DSC_0096Fourth-quarter student Ken Lincoln just completed a TPC Habitat house located on Swan Creek Lane, west of Portland Avenue. The former boat builder from Port Townsend said his Bates education helped him get the skills needed to work on the house.

“In the college’s facility, students go through labs that include mock-ups of residential buildings. I learned to install lights, switch receptacles, wire an apartment, and a 1,000 square-foot home. The opportunity to learn in labs before working on a Habitat for Humanity house is instrumental for our success,” said Lincoln.

The most important part of this hands-on learning experience is that we do finish work on a completed house.

The experiences between lab work and construction on a Habitat home are different, noted Lincoln. “At a Habitat site, students interface and work in tandem with professionals in the construction trade,” he said. “The most important part of this hands-on learning experience is that we do finish work on a completed house. Students hook up wires, so it has to be done right, and it’s got to last,” he added.

Director of Site Development and Construction at TPC Habitat Gomer Roseman, said supporting technical education is important. “Bates students not only provide extra work and volunteer power to our organization, their knowledge of the trade, and the instructors’ involvement in the project, allows our site managers to take a hands-off approach,” he said.

Brandon Rogers, dean of instruction at the college’s South Campus is proud of Electrical Construction instructors Jeff Llapitan and Leenhouts for forging this partnership, which offers a unique experiential learning opportunity for their students.

DSC_0079“A hallmark of the Bates experience is that students graduate with both a credential and a work resume’. For our Electrical Construction students, the Habitat partnership means we also invest directly in our community. It’s a model we celebrate,” said Rogers.

the Habitat partnership means we also invest directly in our community. It’s a model we celebrate.

Lincoln just started work on the community home at The Woods at Golden Given, located in Parkland. “This experience is a great opportunity for us to work on new construction. We go into an enclosed single-family dwelling and mount the meter and panel. We drill our own holes, pull wire, and when ready, hook up the appliances, receptacles and switches. We get to see the reality of all the homeruns coming into the panel. Then, we troubleshoot to ensure everything was done correctly,” he said.

Adds Lincoln, “Working on Habitat homes is something we feel good about. The fact that we have an opportunity to help a family in need move into an affordable new home is incredible.”

To learn more about Bates’ Electrical Construction program, go to www.bates.ctc.edu/Electrical, or call 253.680.7000. To learn more about Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, go to www.tpc-habitat.org.

About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity

With God’s grace and the cooperation of people from all walks of life, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity partners with families in need to build and own simple, decent, affordable homes in safe communities.  Founded in 1985, Tacoma/Pierce County has built 250 homes in partnership with low income families in need.  As a result over 1,000 people now have a simple, decent and affordable place to call home.  Habitat is truly “A hand up, not a hand out.” In addition to a minimal down payment and affordable mortgage payments, homeowner families are required to commit up to 200 hours of ‘sweat equity’ building their own home and the homes of other Habitat families.  Each year, over 3,000 volunteers work with Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat. Volunteers drive down the cost of construction, making Habitat one of the most affordable housing programs not just in Pierce County, but in the world.

About Bates Technical College

Founded in 1940, Bates Technical College offers certificate and degree opportunities in nearly 50 career education programs, and serves approximately 3,000 career training students and 10,000 more community members annually in extended learning, distance learning, high school, and other programs. For more information, go to www.bates.ctc.edu, or call 253.680.7000.

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