VIU Heavy Equipment Operator Students Really Dig Habitat for Humanity

Students and instructors in VIU’s Heavy Equipment Operator program who worked on recent site preparation for Habitat for Humanity include (l-r): Libby Stubbs, Ken Lotoski, Marcus Ooms, HEO instructor Brandon Lindsay, Hunter Hamel, Tyson Folz and Josh Morrison.

June 30, 2015 - 10:45am

Six new homes to be built in south Nanaimo by Habitat for Humanity will have a solid foundation to build on, thanks to students in Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) program.

In an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island, VIU students gain valuable work experience and reinforce skills learned throughout the year working on a variety of heavy equipment on the sites, and during the construction phase.

“I loved it, it bumped up my confidence to a whole new level -- it was an awesome project to work on,” said HEO student Libby Stubbs, a Courtenay resident who graduated from the HEO Foundations program June 19.

Instructor Brandon Lindsay said HEO students worked on the Habitat for Humanity site near Extension over several weeks in the spring, operating excavators in site preparation, clearing and stripping.

Stubbs, who is considering several job options near Red Deer, AB in home construction site preparation, gained specific experience that will relate to her future career.

”Tyson (Folz) and Libby did the mass excavation of the site, which entails excavations for house foundations, which is directly related to the work Libby will be doing,” said Lindsay.

VIU has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for several years, most recently working on two Nanaimo duplexes that provided hands-on experience for students in the Construction program. Another group of students will be involved in the building project in Extension, with two of the six new homes expected to be completed in December.

Key to the partnership is Carpentry chair, Jessie Magee-Chalmers, who has volunteered for the past three years as vice-chair on the Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island board, and also oversees the Build committee.

Magee-Chalmers said he is able to set construction schedules on the Habitat for Humanity homes to align with the Construction program, and involve as many students as possible in hands-on learning.

“Not only are students getting the training that they want, we’re giving them the extra motivation to understand how to be good community members.”

With HEO and Construction students already working on the homes, he added, it’s expected students in both Electrical and Interior Design programs will also have an opportunity to get involved in the future.

Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island has completed 14 units in the region, including single family homes and duplexes.


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Tags: Teaching and Learning

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