Future Craftsmen program expands career opportunities for students
For days after the Craftsmanship Awards, Gunnar Grimm kept talking about the winning projects. An HVAC student at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center (CCCTC) and a 2023 Future Craftsman & Design Award winner, Grimm was impressed by the scope, complexity and variety of the projects, and he kept telling his classmates about them.
“Seeing those multi-million-dollar projects, the kinds of things that craftsmen were involved in and the huge air handlers for commercial projects, that’s what impressed him the most,” said Kent Shamer, HVAC Instructor at CCCTC.
Those real world displays of work done by HVAC technicians, electricians, masons, carpenters and other trades people can have profound impact on tech school students, Shamer said. High school schedules don’t often leave much time to show students how the things they are learning in class and the workshop relate to big, impressive construction projects. Consequently, students don’t always realize that their classwork could lead to exciting career options.
Events, such as the Craftsmanship Awards or field trips to construction companies or project sites, can reveal those opportunities and inspire students to seriously pursue a construction career, Shamer said.
“Kids don’t realize what they are training for until they see it,” he said. “Once they start to see how the things they’re learning in class are being used in the outside world, they start to connect the dots better. When that happens, I notice more of them paying a lot more attention to the coursework and their skills increase exponentially because they see the potential for careers they are interested in. They start to believe they can do those things.”
Consequently, Shamer and others were delighted to see students from CCCTC sweep the Future Craftsman & Design Awards this year.
Grimm, an A student in the CCCTC HVAC program, works part time at a landscaping company, is a SkillsUSA team member, volunteers as a camp counsellor and competes in varsity lacrosse and wrestling. He plans to get a job or internship in HVAC after graduation and eventually open his own company.
In a letter of recommendation for the Future Craftsmen Award, Shamer said Grimm “has a great work ethic…and has also demonstrated to be an outstanding leader in his abilities and accomplishments.”
Ethan Ebberts, a student in CCCTC’s electrical construction program, is also a SkillsUSA team member, a volunteer camp counselor and an active Boy Scout. Eager to pursue a career in electrical construction, Ebberts has arranged a summer job in the field. He plans to attend trade school to advance his skills and go to college to earn an Associate’s degree.
Carroll Warner, Electrical Construction Instructor at CCCTC, described Ebberts as intelligent and responsible in a letter of recommendation. “When presented with expanded challenges [in class], Ethan takes it upon himself to accept the challenge and researches all material to maximize all his possibilities for the task… He is capable of handling any situation with thoughtfulness and maturity.”
Grant Jarboe, a student in CCCTC’s Masonry program, is a volunteer with vacation bible school and has participated in multiple environmental projects, including stream cleanup, watershed improvements and water quality testing. Jarboe – who has built walls, corners and piers, and completed both stone and block work – is pursuing a summer internship in masonry and a job in the field after graduation.
“The Masonry program that Grant is taking is a comprehensive course that addresses many of the construction trades, including basic jobsite safety, hand and power tool usage, construction math, employability skills, and communication skills,” wrote Michael Campanile, CCCTC Masonry Instructor. “His shop projects are done on time and he has pride in what he does. He is a hard worker in the shop and has improved on each of his projects.”
John Lawrence, a Project Manager with The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and a longtime BC&E Foundation volunteer on the Future Craftsman program, said the award always attracts numerous, impressive applicants.
“The thing that stands out most is how energetic and passionate the kids are about what they are doing,” Lawrence said. “They already love it and some of them have already done amazing projects on their own whether it is making things to sell or volunteer construction projects. Years ago, I was blown away by these things. Now, I have come to expect that some applicants are already doing really cool stuff.”
The program, he said, does more than provide funds to the winners to further their education. The process of presenting their credentials and participating in an interview with construction industry professionals helps prepare students for the work world. It also helps some students enter that world. BC&E members often connect promising students (whether they win the award or not) with member companies that might be able to provide them with internships or coop work arrangements.
“The program is a really good exercise and good exposure for the students,” Lawrence said. “It also highlights to the BC&E membership that there are a lot of really bright young people out there who are getting ready to jump into the workforce. It’s beneficial for everyone.”