A Design and Construction Industry Fair will be held at Eastside Memorial (formerly Johnston High School) on May 14, 2010 with over 100 students expected to participate. Industry professionals will be on hand to extend their knowledge with an emphasis on keeping students in school.
Pete Montoya, Johnston High School alum and retired general contractor, wants the students to explore all their options. “My forte is in construction,” said Montoya. “I want them to know that if they stay in school and then if they wish to go into the construction industry, they can excel and make a good livelihood.”
Montoya has 30 years experience as journeyman carpenter in the union. He was a proud member of the Hispanic Contractors Association, one of the organizations participating in the event, along with the National Association of Women in Construction Austin Chapter, and Austin Black Contractors Association.
Tavis A. Jones works with students in the Jobs, Inc. program in the Office of Dropout Prevention at Eastside Memorial. “We prepare students with training for the workforce,” said Jones. “Through the program, we form partnerships between students, parents, employers, and me. The Jobs, Inc. program helps employers get a successful candidate though workforce readiness.” Educational information about student attendance and grades are shared with all parties to help with the success of the program.
Students who have expressed interest in finding out about getting started in the construction industry will be able to find out more about the required tools to do work and have an opportunity to get some hands-on training at the event.
Otto Pfahl, a volunteer, sees the value in helping the students to see what is out there by showcasing various career options to high school students who may not have exposure otherwise. Pfahl has seen benefits of being on both sides. “I have 30 years experience in protégé and mentorship programs,” said Pfahl, who was a protégé as an engineer at General Motors and has since been involved in many mentor programs.
Steve Swanson, planning committee member, said, “It’s a step towards bringing business, student, and educators together and not letting education be a silo. The businesses involved are offering the students insight into the availability of a variety of different careers to hopefully match their talents and dreams.” Swanson believes this encourages breaking down barriers and working together for our children and for our community’s future. “This event demonstrates the value of each person and their skills used in the design and construction of a project,” said Swanson. Professions from dry wall, plumbers, electrician, and general contractors to engineers and architects will be represented.By Monica Pena