TSTC students build their way to success

Students in Building Construction Technology at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen are building sheds and gazebos as part of their class project.

In previous years, when the work was complete, the project would be torn down to reuse the materials, but this year things are different.

“Our students feel so accomplished when they finish, that making them tear it down is so disheartening,” said Building Construction Technology instructor Rick Vargas. “So this year, we’re selling their projects to the community.”

The students in Construction Technology 2 and Construction Management courses have been working for nearly two semesters to complete the gazebos and sheds.

“They have built each one from the foundation, up,” said Vargas. “It’s a long process and takes about three semesters to complete, but after this students have a better understanding of the construction process and are pretty much ready to work in industry.”

Each shed and gazebo is built with care and love according to Building Construction Technology student Salvador Hernandez.

“Construction is a passion for us here in this program,” said Hernandez. “We take pride in what we build. It’s been an elaborate process to ensure everything is of the highest quality and workmanship. We ensure that everything is well built.”

Salvador was pursuing a nursing degree at a four-year university prior to withdrawing and transferring to TSTC to pursue his love of construction, and said this particular project has taken his skills to the next level.

“I have been able to get experience in a little bit of everything by doing this project,” he said. “From the foundation and framing to the roofing, I feel better prepared to hit the ground running when I graduate next semester.”

Vargas said the idea behind this project is to give his students a real-world experience that will give them a hands-on approach to practice their skills from construction to management.

“Our overall goal is to create well-rounded students and get them placed in good paying jobs,” said Vargas. “And this project has always played a huge role in that.”

Jaqueline Vidal said this project has taught her a lot about her strengths, especially as a woman in a male-dominated career.

“What I’ve learned is that I can do anything the boys can do,” she said. “There are no limits for me as a woman and this project has taught me that.”

The gazebo that Vidal has been working on has already been sold and she said while she is proud and feels accomplished, she is also sad to see it go.

“It’s rewarding to know that someone liked our work enough to buy this gazebo and I hope they love it as much as we do,” she said.

The sheds and gazebos are not being sold to make a profit, but to merely cover the cost of materials the students use in class.

“We just want our students to gain experience and have their work recognized and appreciated. And take note: these students have produced a good-quality product,” said Vargas.

For information on how to purchase a shed or gazebo, call 956-364-4770.

Building Construction Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Waco campus, to learn more visit tstc.edu.