Building a Shed Lays a Foundation for the Future


Building a Shed Lays a Foundation for the Future

A hands-on approach introduces students to the opportunities available in component manufacturing.

Do you remember your high school teachers? Luke Weisen remembers his.

Wiesen, corporate sales manager at Millard Lumber Inc., was recently invited to attend the Maker Fair, a career-oriented event at his alma mater, Cozad High School in Cozad, Nebraska. Amanda Ogden, an alumna of the high school and presently a chemistry teacher involved in the fair contacted Wiesen. He said he, “liked the idea of collaborating with my high school teacher from one of my favorite classes and giving back to the students.”

Wiesen, who went into the industry right out of high school, spent a day with eight students in the technical education class. They spent the morning in the classroom and the afternoon on the shop floor, constructing a 4' x 6' shed. 

“When we moved onto the shop floor, it was nice to see the students take ownership of the project. I let them do everything when it was time to build, and you could see right away who had the potential,” said Wiesen.  

He introduced the students to the industry and different ways to get involved, from reading blueprints and using design software to component and on-site manufacturing. Students posed general questions about the how and why of entering the industry and specific ones on the education requirements to become designers.  

“During the building part of the day, the students went through all the steps in the process. They set the floor trusses and wall panels and could see what I had discussed earlier: load paths, truss spans and connectors. It was more than just listening to how it was done,” said Wiesen. 

The Maker Fair is a two-day, professional learning event that brings together community members, businesses, teachers, administrators and alumni. According to Ogden, 
it allows students to see professions in a new light. In its third year, this year’s fair offered students more than 55 different classes, including Wiesen’s. In addition to Wiesen’s time, Millard Lumber donated the lumber for the project. 

The high school is still determining how to make the most of the finished product Wiesen’s class created. One suggestion has been to use the shed in other trade classes, such as electrical or HVAC, to give additional students hands-on experience. 

Family-owned and locally operated, Millard Lumber has been a supplier of building materials and home products for over 69 years. Millard Lumber was an early manufacturer of roof trusses, pre-manufactured wall sections and pre-hung doors and has since stayed in the forefront of advanced building techniques.

Today, Rick Russell and his management team, including his two sons, Joel and Mark, run the family-owned Nebraska-based business, along with over 200 associates at the Omaha, Waverly and Spring Hill, Kansas locations. While Millard Lumber has experienced tremendous growth, the Millard vision has remained the same for more than half a century: to help people achieve their goals of homeownership and pursue the American Dream, while providing quality building materials and services that exceed customers’ expectations.

About the Author: Lena Giakoumopoulos joined the SBCA membership development team in 2014 and also focuses on workforce development and other management committee initiatives. She holds a masters degree in global marketing and has experience writing for newsletters, manuals, brochures and websites.

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