MSU BILLINGS NEWS—The Native American Achievement Center (NAAC) at Montana State University Billings is home to the first and only on-campus sweat lodge in the state of Montana. This January, the NAAC partnered with Facilities Services and the City College Construction program for the completion of a wooden cover for the sweat lodge, preventing damage and protecting it from Montana’s weather.

With winter weather upon us, time was limited to construct a substantial snow cover on-site at the NAAC. Facilities Services Director Chris Eagan, alongside Construction Management Instructor David Nedrow and his students were up to the challenge, managing to plan, design, gain approvals, order materials, and build the structure in under a month. After completing the necessary prep work in the shop, the group was able to move on-site and complete the structure in two working days.

This is the second collaboration between Facilities Services and the Construction Program at City College. This November, students helped to complete a storage shed at the Chancellor’s residence in a mere eight days.

Projects like these are influential to student success in the Construction Management program. The project “provides the students real opportunities to receive training and gain experience in a number of hands-on skills, many of which are impossible in our shop setting,” says Nedrow. Students in the program have been able to gain hands-on experience working for real clients, participating in activities such as excavation, concrete work, building layout, and carpentry, which would otherwise be unavailable.

“The best advantage of these projects, however, is our ability to involve the students in the site assessment, budgeting and estimating, planning, material ordering and handling, and other tasks,” shares Nedrow. Students are able to hone their communication skills involved in project management, even if just on a small scale. They are exposed to a number of challenges that real contractors face, coming up with effective ways to overcome them.

“The variety and uniqueness provide the teaching moments we need,” says Nedrow. “We’ve enjoyed the projects so far and look forward to more to come.”

Students in the program are currently working on the partial interior renovation of a 40-year-old rental home located on Rimrock. This project will serve as yet another real-life learning experience for students.

“I believe projects like these and the real world experiences they provide will help our current students learn valuable skills and build marketable resumes,” said Nedrow, “while also providing the exposure our program needs to attract the next class.”

Funds for the sweat lodge were raised by the NAAC and MSU Billings Foundation.

Contact: City College Construction Management Program Instructor David Nedrow, 247-3053, david.nedrow@msubillings.edu<mailto:david.nedrow@msubillings.edu>; Facilities Services Director Christopher Eagan, 406-657-2197, christopher.eagan@msubillings.edu<mailto:christopher.eagan@msubillings.edu>.
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