MENDOCINO Co., 1/18/18 — Want to improve your job skills, or just learn how to fix up your own house? In the wake of the fire the whole region is looking for competent tradespeople and Mendocino College is a good place to improve your skills, offering various classes in construction.
Here’s a press release they sent us with a lot of good information:
“Mendocino College Construction Program Offers
Hands-On Training in Lake and Mendocino Counties
Lakeport, CA – People in Lake and Mendocino Counties can get affordable, hands-on training through the Sustainable Construction and Energy Technology Program at Mendocino College. Semester-long classes begin January 22.
Program coordinator Jennifer Riddell says, “Given the number of structures that burned in recent fires, construction workers of all skill levels are in high demand in our area, and will be for the foreseeable future. Our program teaches people the skills they need to start a career in construction, or to work on their own homes.”
Riddell noted that because the name of the Mendocino College program includes words like “sustainable” and “energy technology,” some people have been under the mistaken impression that the program focuses primarily on solar panel installation; when in fact, it includes all aspects of basic construction. This semester, courses include Safety Standards for Construction, Construction Documents I & II, Residential Remodel and Repair, Construction Management, Introduction to Clean Technology, Advanced Construction, Introduction to Residential Electric, Residential Solar Thermal, Building Performance, Occupational Work Experience, and Sustainability Overview.
Two courses will be offered through the Lake County campus this semester: Construction Fundamentals and Residential Electric. Ben Hittle is enthusiastic about his upcoming Construction Fundamentals course (SCT 180). He says, “We’ll start with houses for birds, bats and bees, then move on from there.” Hittle will incorporate his 20+ years of experience as he teaches students about the tools and materials commonly used in construction, as well as safety practices so students do not harm themselves or others. He will blend classroom instruction with experiential learning to teach students how to build small structures like birdhouses, bat houses and beehives. Once students master basic construction skills on a small scale, they will take on larger building projects. Hittle also plans to introduce alternative building materials such as straw bales and “hempcrete”—a concrete-like substance that includes fibrous material, making it more durable and lighter-weight than concrete. Hittle said students do not need prior experience, and he welcomes students of all backgrounds and ages.
The Residential Electric course (SCT 186) will be taught by longtime Lake and Mendocino County electrician, Craig Bach. Bach has been a licensed electrician since 1983, working as an independent contractor since 1991. He teaches students about the tools of the trade and “how not to electrocute yourself,” he explained. He compared electrical safety with aviation safety, saying, “It’s much like flying—you want to be about three mistakes above the ground at all times.” He said one of the first rules he teaches about electricity is to “turn it off” before you start working. Like Construction Fundamentals, the Residential Electric course is also an introductory course. Bach said, “You’ll not be an electrician after you complete the course, but you will know the basics.” Bach’s meticulous approach provides students with information on how to troubleshoot electrical problems and safely wire residences. The course includes lectures as well as hands-on practice. For students who are motivated to seek a career in this field, Bach recommended online certification courses through the Western Electrical Contractors Association (weca.com).
Riddell said Mendocino College began its Sustainable Construction and Energy Technology program in 2011 to help industry professionals who wanted to expand their skills and keep up with California’s ever-changing regulations, including Title 24 regulations that will go into effect in 2020, affecting “everyone in the construction trades.” The program was also intended to support students who wanted to pursue the building trades and homeowners who wanted to do their own repairs and remodels. Today, the program has grown beyond Ukiah to offer classes in Lakeport, Willits and Laytonville, as well as anywhere people have an internet connection (some classes are offered online).
Riddell credits the program’s success to its “extremely knowledgeable instructors” who use a step-by-step approach to demystify everything from plumbing and electricity to reading blueprints. Students can take individual courses or sign up for certificate programs in Construction, Renewable Energy, and/or Residential Performance and Efficiency.
“Our instructors really are amazing. Most of them have been in the business for decades and they share that experience with the students. In Lake County, we’re lucky to have long-time instructor, electrician Craig Bach, and our newest instructor, Ben Hittle, who has more than 20 years of construction experience repairing and remodeling homes,” Riddell said.
Although the program is primarily intended for those 18 years and older, Mendocino College collaborates with local high schools to provide “dual-enrollment” classes, allowing high school students to get college credit at Willits High School, Laytonville High School, and Ukiah High School. The classes are unusual compared to other courses taught on those campuses because the classes include both high school students and community members.
The increasing focus of public schools on Career and Technical Education (CTE) makes the Mendocino College Sustainable Construction program a perfect fit. Because of their practical, hands-on nature, CTE courses provide students with an environment that encourages learning in a more kinetic way, and the practical skills students gain can help them eventually earn a living doing work they enjoy.
Riddell, who is both the program coordinator and an instructor, encourages anyone interested in taking construction courses to visit www.mendocino.edu/sustainabletech. To register, students should visit https://www.mendocino.edu Classes begin January 22.”