A new relationship between Pella Windows & Doors of Omaha and Metropolitan Community College (MCC) is making the expertise of Pella team members accessible to construction students building a house from the ground up. The training is part of the students’ Capstone project at the MCC Fort Omaha campus Construction Education Center.
“When you engage the students in a hands-on project led by instructors that have industry experience, the students immediately see the importance of what they’re doing and it goes directly to the long-term memory side of the brain,” MCC’s dean of Career and Technical Education (CTE), Nathan Barry, said.
“We always love the opportunity to get industry experts into the class to share some of their stories and knowledge…students get the experience of working directly with an expert rather than sitting back and watching,” MCC instructor Josh Steele said. “Usually we only have one or maybe two people from a company to demonstrate or lecture, but to have Pella bring a team of people in and split the class up into groups to work with them almost individually, it was a huge benefit.”
Pella Omaha Business Development Manager Zack Heenan presented the idea of participating in the Capstone project after taking a blueprint-reading class at MCC. Over two days, a Pella team participated in teaching several sections of both male and female students that included not only conventional college students, but nontraditional students looking for a new career path and even high-schoolers. In addition to Heenan, the Pella team included Jerry Murley (Commercial Project Manger), Andy Grzebielski (Trade Installation Manager), Jody Baughman (Service Manager), Austin Annan (Fulfillment Manager), Mario Smith (Retail Installation Manager), Clint Schwery (Field Manager), and Myron Jurgens (Owner of Jurgens Construction).
“It was a great overall experience,” Heenan said. “The class was like being on a job site. We showed them best practices of how to install properly.” Pella Omaha contributed both the instructional hours and the products: Pella® 250 Series vinyl windows and a Pella® Series entry door.
"Capstone project houses are ultimately moved to lots in neighborhoods near the MCC Fort Omaha campus and sold, which can be a catalyst for other developers looking for opportunities," Barry said. “We’ve already seen some activity in the community. MCC cannot take all of the credit for revitalizing a neighborhood, but it is nice to think that this collaboration had a small part of what is happening in the community.”
MCC and Pella Omaha anticipate continued collaboration.
“The Capstone project is unique because it is truly a public-private relationship with the City of Omaha, nonprofit organizations, the construction industry, and MCC students,” Barry said. “By building 90 percent of the home in our state-of-the-art lab, the students are able to use today’s building practices while testing the limits of tomorrow’s technology and productivity standards.”
“We love the industry support we’ve been getting,” Steele said. “A huge thanks to Pella.”