Approximately two dozen students in Professor Timothy Dennis' "Principles and Practices of Light Construction" course built 29 wall sections for Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County as a class project. The walls are scheduled to be transported in the next couple weeks to a building site on Schenectady Street, where Habitat for Humanity volunteers will install the walls and quickly erect the frame to a three-bedroom house.
Students in the college's Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) Technical Services program also offered their assistance, designing the heating and air conditioning system that will be installed in the home. Associate Professor David Fuller said second-year students in his "HVAC/R Systems Design" course designed a system that is actually more energy efficient and cheaper to install than the system Habitat planned to use.
"I was pretty proud of my students. We were able to do this for them and help them with a better design," said Fuller, adding that the design will be used in future Habitat homes as well.
The partnership between the college and Habitat started last year with the Construction Technology program. The college provided Habitat with free labor while students were able to build an actual structure with new wood and materials, rather than building a model house frame that would be torn down after it was constructed so the next class of students could re-use the materials, said Dennis, who teaches Civil Engineering, Construction, Computer Integrated and Mechanical technologies.
"It's better than a test – it's a practical test," Dennis said. "It's a win-win. Everybody makes out well."
Jeff Clark, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County, said the partnership with Hudson Valley helps his organization's efforts to build more affordable homes for low-income families in Schenectady.
The chapter aims to build 25 homes in the next five years and Hudson Valley's students are helping the organization reach that goal: "It speeds up our process drastically. It really helps our timeline and makes sure we get our three homes built this year. We think it's great," Clark explained.
Involving young people in community service and exposing them to Habitat for Humanity's mission is an added benefit.
"The biggest thing for Habitat for Humanity is getting people exposed to it. This is a new way," Clark added. "A lot of our volunteers now are older. Knowing we may be laying some groundwork for the future is great."
The college also has partnered with other local Habitat for Humanity chapters. Students in Assistant Professor Susan Kilgallon's Drafting class design blueprints for homes each year and submit them for consideration to Capital District Habitat for Humanity, the organization's Albany chapter. Two years ago, Capital District Habitat approved one of the designs, which will be used for a home that is scheduled to be built in north Albany in the future.
Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 60 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and workforce and academic preparation programs offered through the Educational Opportunity Center. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 12,000 students, and it is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining. Hudson Valley has more than 60,000 alumni.