Training News

IMI Goes to School

Design Students Learn From BAC Members

Journal: May - June 2001

Local 4 NJ spent a busy day on campus at the New Jersey Technology Institute School of Architecture.

When IMI sets up hands-on craft demonstrations and technical programs at leading architectural and engineering schools, students enjoy the rare opportunity to touch and work with the materials with which they design, and BAC members enjoy the chance to demonstrate their craft skills. But what else is accomplished?

Plenty, it turn outs. These college-level programs give tomorrow’s designers exposure to the full range of masonry crafts, while illustrating the contributions that well-trained union craftworkers bring to the designers’ craft.

“It’s a terrific program,” says John C. Phillips, President and Business Manager of Local 1 Pennsylvania/Delaware, which recently hosted a group from the University of Pennsylvania at its training center. “It brings our members, and their skills and experience closer to these future architects and engineers. I can’t think of a better way to do that.” University of Pennsylvania student Joyce Cheng agrees: “It was a great opportunity to learn from so many professionals. We all came away with a hearty respect for the craftspeople.”

Other programs this year have involved students and faculty from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), the University of Illinois, Carnegie Mellon University, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and the University of Oklahoma.

BAC Local 1 PA/DE invited students from the University of Pennsylvania to Local 1’s training center.

The sessions vary, ranging from lectures by BAC and IMI experts, to stone quarry and block plant field trips, to design competitions and more. In Indiana, IMI has helped make the Boiler Brick Bowl, a design/build competition, a popular tradition at Purdue University’s Landscape Architecture School. IMI developed a semester-long graduate-level course on masonry detailing at the University of Minnesota, which emphasizes interaction between BAC members and contractors—the people who build the buildings.

The mutual respect and understanding that these programs help foster can translate into improved job site relations, believes New Jersey Institute of Technology School of Architecture Dean Urs Gauchat. NJIT’s April program brought together students in architecture and civil engineering for brick, block, terrazzo, tile, and plaster demonstrations, seminars, and a chance to meet union contractors. Local 4 New Jersey Business Manager Jerry Della Salla comments, “Getting design and engineering students interested in masonry for both exteriors and interiors is good for the industry. They were all paying close attention—I think we’ll see real benefits when they graduate.”

Local 8 IL and design students at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign joined forces to spread the good word about masonry.

For Carnegie Mellon Professor Steve Lee, the value of hands-on exposure to materials and craftworkers, gained at a recent BAC/IMI Local 9 Pennsylvania event, prompted him to change his teaching methods. “I now stress hands-on learning as much as I do in-class lectures,” says Lee.

The bottom line, says IIT Assistant Professor Frank Flury, is that “students get excited about the high level of craft skills, and about using masonry materials in their design work.” Plus, says AIAS Chapter President Craig Carter from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “It is great to form a relationship with the Local Union and with IMI.”


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