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From cabinets to a warming structure: NMU students present construction projects

This is a construction management student at Northern Michigan University. Eight senior projects in this program at NMU recently were presented virtually. (Photo courtesy of NMU)

MARQUETTE — The construction management program at Northern Michigan University recently virtual presentations on eight senior construction/renovation projects completed on campus and on behalf of community organizations.

The online format was necessitated by safety protocols associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four “design build” projects were covered: museum-grade display cabinets at the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center gallery in NMU’s Gries Hall; interior repair/renovation for Masonic Arts, Theater & Innovation; a bathroom renovation for the Women’s Center of Marquette; and a front porch renovation for Janzen House.

Students discussed four schematic design-and-estimate projects for a new interactive human heart exhibit at the U.P. Children’s Museum, a warming structure for ski jumping competitions at the Ishpeming Ski Club, a new garage for Trillium House to match its existing structure, and a covered walkway for a ramp leading to a yurt for the NMU School of Health and Human Performance.

“The community service project is integrated into the capstone project,” said Professor and NMU alumna Heidi Blanck in a news release. “The faculty seek proposals from community organizations during the summer break and vet the options for what we know is feasible during a 15-week period.

“The selected community partners present to the project management class during the first class of the fall semester, and the students participate in a lottery sort of selection process to determine the projects they will work on.”

Blanck said students in each group form their own organizational structure for communicating with the community partner. The capstone course is only offered in fall, so the 39 students enrolled this year will graduate in either December or May.

Senior Nick Hughes of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was part of the group that worked on three museum-grade display cabinets for the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center.

“There’s a high level of specifications required for museum-quality cases that protect artifacts,” said Hughes, who has already accepted a job offer from Hensel Phelps in Greeley, Colorado. “The cost usually ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Dan Truckey, the director, didn’t have that kind of budget, so he reached out to our program for help.

“We built them at cost, saving about $35 per hour in labor. We’re still calculating the total hours invested, but the five students on the project probably put in about 400-500 hours.

Projects like this gives the whole class an idea of what it’s like to go from design to build,” Hughes said.

“It offers a glimpse of what will happen in the field when we’re professionals working in the industry,” he said.

Members of the program’s advisory committee were to evaluate the seniors on their presentations.

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