The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 5, 2012

PSU students win national award

From staff reports

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Students in Pittsburg State University’s Associated General Contractors Student Chapter have won second place in a national awards contest of the Associated General Contractors of America for their work last year on the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project in Joplin.

The Associated General Contractors sponsors nearly 200 university chapters nationwide. Its annual awards are given out to recognize chapters that undertake exceptional projects that benefit their communities. The award also recognizes the assistance of all the PSU students and organizations that helped with the project.

More than 100 students and instructors from PSU teamed up to work with what was billed as the most ambitious project ever taken on by the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show. The show brought thousands to Joplin last October to build seven houses in one week for those who lost homes in the 2011 tornado. It was taped to air as the show’s final episode last winter.

PSU teams worked with show personnel for eight weeks in planning and preparing materials for the build.

The PSU students were divided into four teams. One handled on-site safety and Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance for the entire project. Others worked in materials staging and handling to get building materials ready as they were needed. Half of the students were assigned as assistants to the professional builders.

“To our knowledge, I don’t believe there’s been a university that has been given the level the responsibility we have been” in previous “Extreme Makeover” shows, said Justin Honey, a professor in the construction and engineering department at PSU, last fall in preparing for the build.

The students also worked on construction in the restoration of Cunningham Park.

Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the AGC, wrote in a letter to PSU:

“To work with ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ team to build seven homes in seven days is an outstanding example of community service.” He wrote that it shows a commitment by PSU to instill in students a dedication and commitment to help their community and to succeed in the construction industry.

In preparing for the Joplin build, 12 of the students went to Pinckneyville, Ill., to help with the construction of a modular house that became one of the seven houses built on the show.

PSU students and faculty volunteered more than 13,200 hours on the project.

Michael Halsey, a senior in the construction management program, said in a statement issued by PSU of the project: “It means a lot to me. I’ve got a lot of friends and family in Joplin. To be able to help out like this is amazing. I know seven houses doesn’t seem like much, but for those families, it’s a new life for them.”

National report

Representatives of Pittsburg State University’s Associated General Contractors Student Chapter will give a presentation about the project at a national meeting of the chapters in March at Palm Springs, Calif.