Career Construction Academy Students Tour NW Mutual Building in Milwaukee
Imagine stepping onto an aluminum scaffold plank at the 26th floor of a high-rise building and surveying the construction site from that vantage point. Or what about riding in a skip hoist elevator to the 35th story, 550 feet high, straight to the building’s penthouse and taking in the beautiful view of a large city from that height.
Fond du Lac High School’s Career Construction Academy (CCA) students were given these unique “bird’s eye view” experiences through the program’s partnership with C.D. Smith. As one of the major contractors at the Northwestern Mutual building in Milwaukee, Pat Smith, C.D. Smith Safety Director, treated students to a field trip on the other side of the chain-link fence to see the behind-the-scenes activities that occur when a 1.1 million-square-foot building is under construction.
Student Kolten Sabel shared, “I gained a lot of respect for the guys brave enough to work in the frigid temperatures on the top floors. The amount of time spent planning these jobs out so they run smoothly must require a ton of work and dedication in the office.” Jordan Payne was equally impressed, “It was a really cool experience with so many cool things I didn’t even know existed. (One) of the highlights that I enjoyed most (was) the tower crane that stood taller than the building itself.”
At a time when companies that employ skilled trades workers are exploring ways to spur interest in these types of careers to address the worker shortage, it’s these types of experiences that may swing a student’s decision towards this field. Pat Smith pointed out, “C.D. Smith is excited to partner with Fond du Lac High School and the Career Construction Academy to offer opportunities such as the Northwestern Mutual tour to the students. We welcome every opportunity to provide hands-on learning experiences and inspire students to consider a career in the construction industry. It is truly rewarding to see the excitement on their faces after visiting an active jobsite.” Field trips like this might just be the impetus for them to begin pursuing a position as a bricklayer, carpenter, plumber, electrician, sheet metal worker, or any of these skilled occupations.
Vern Widmer, Fond du Lac High School’s CCA Tech Ed instructor, believes the program is doing exactly what it was designed to do – provide students with a closer look at these career options through hands-on training and valuable field trip experiences. After the Northwestern Mutual field trip, he smiled and offered, “Once the guys were in the vehicle and warmed up a bit, they were non stop excited about what they had experienced. Each one of them marveled at all the details that have to come together to make a project like this a reality. While the outside temperatures were brutal, it will no doubt help etch positivity into the minds of these four guys, what the trades offer them as a career.”