Tim Olguin, left, and Chanyeong (Chan) Park, and Sarah Hescock (lower right) on the job site. MIKE EYSTER/PHOTO

A lot has been written about Career Technical Education (CTE) recently, and with good cause. The advantages of CTE are well known.

Among them: higher graduation rates, lower cost than four-year college, graduating without debt, contributing to meeting the high demand for skilled workers, and the ability to begin earning a living wage earlier in life.

Local affordable housing developer Tim Olguin, LCC construction technology professor Paul Rea, and the students in professor Rea’s construction technology class have entered into a collaboration that has multiple benefits.

Utilizing Springfield’s Accessory Dwelling Unit policy, which encourages maximizing the use of land to create more dense, walkable neighborhoods, they are building a three- or four-unit project on a single lot on A Street in Springfield.

The benefits include: 

• Construction Technology students gaining first-hand experience on a job site and learning to build a house. 

• Much of the work on the project is being performed by professor Rea’s construction technology class, reducing the cost of construction.

• As a result of savings from the method of construction, Tim Olguin will offer the living units at below-market rents. 

• The City of Springfield will gain three to four new units of affordable housing.

Let me introduce two of the students involved.

Chanyeong (Chan) Park is from South Korea. Chan learned English and French when his family moved to Paris in 2015, where Chan attended high school. Chan came to the U.S. in 2018 to study business at the University of Oregon. In 2019, he went back to Korea for two years to meet his military obligation.

When Chan returned to the U.S. he decided to change his focus to a career in construction. Chan’s decision was based on several factors. Chan explained that his respect and appreciation for his grandfather, who was able to make a living working with his hands, was a motivator for him. Chan said the class he is enrolled in confirms his preference for working in the construction field. He likes the practical aspects of construction work, he said. Chan experiences construction as having less “drama” than an office environment. He noted that construction workers may not have the respect that they deserve, but he takes solace in the knowledge that everyone, even rich and famous people, depend on the work of construction workers. Chan is enrolled in several other CTE courses at Lane Community College this term and intends to continue his studies in construction science.

Sarah Hescock is from Missouri. She owns her own company, Sarah Woodwork LLC, where she does small woodworking projects. Sarah has considerable experience in a variety of trades. Her experience and knowledge are obvious from observing Sarah on the job site. However, Sarah would like to advance her career and knowledge by earning a contractor’s license.

The course is helping her accomplish this. Sarah is not only interested in understanding construction methods and techniques, but also gaining a thorough understanding of the industry codes. Sarah said the hands-on experience of the construction technology class will serve her well in earning the contractor’s license.

She explained that learning how to construct a building by reading about it isn’t the same as learning it under the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced teacher on a job site. She also said that the hands-on approach matches her learning style.

Sarah intends to continue her studies in construction science, and encouraged other women to consider working in the trades. She said the trades offer a valuable opportunity for many women.

It was clear from talking with Sarah and Chan and from observing the other students in the class that they are passionate about learning the construction field, and they look forward to applying their knowledge to their future careers.

Mike Eyster serves on several public boards and is a community leader in Springfield.