Rochester area students dabble in the trades during Construct Tomorrow event
From brick laying to welding to donning a harness and walking across a beam, students experienced a plethora of jobs in the construction industry.
ROCHESTER — Kodiak Smith, a senior from Red Wing High School, likes being able to see the culmination of his work. That's one of the reasons he likes the idea of working in the trades.
"In the end, you get to look back on it and say 'I did that,'" Smith said. "It's an accomplishment."
Smith was one of roughly 800 students who attended the event Construct Tomorrow. Held at the Mayo Civic Center, it offered students the chance to speak with workers in the industry and even test out some of the skills that they would have to gain for the work.
"We try to just expose students to what a career in the trades has to offer," said Anna Carlson, program coordinator for Construct Tomorrow. "It at least gets them thinking about the trades as a viable option."
The skills varied quite a bit. In one corner of the room, students could try something as simple as hammering a nail into a piece of wood. On the other end of the spectrum, students used virtual reality to see what it would be like using a paint sprayer or operating heavy equipment.
From brick laying to welding to donning a harness and walking across a beam, students had the chance to experience a plethora of jobs in the industry.
Dallas Nustvold with the organization Construction Laborers talked to a group of students about the scope of work in the trades. He mentioned how he likes driving through the Twin Cities and pointing out all the projects he's worked on.
"I guarantee you this building right here was built by all the trades in here," Nustvold said, referring to the Civic Center building.
Many of the students attending Construct Tomorrow came through classes such as metal fabrication and wood working in their home schools.
Although they all had varying levels of experience, the students had similar reasons for thinking about going into the construction industry: the lack of college debt, the ability to go right into the workforce and the chance to have a more hands-on career.
As young as they are, some of students already have a baseline experience. Jackson Garcia,17, works construction in the summer. Smith, who comes from a family of welders, also has experience in trades that comes from working on farms.
But even for students with some prior experience in the industry, being able to see the breadth of options was helpful.
"I just came to see different kinds of trades — to see what I want to go into possibly," Red Wing High School senior Easton Fairbanks said. "I think it's helped me narrow my choices."
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