VTC Sheds and Remodel Projects Engage Students in Skilled Trades

The Greater Iowa City Area HBA Vocational Training Council (VTC) is partnering on two Architecture-Engineering-Construction (ACE) initiatives – student-built sheds and a student remodel – aimed at giving high school students skilled-trades experience. The VTC also received a Future Ready Iowa Grant for tools to support its ongoing efforts. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VTC’s award-winning Student-Built House program – where high schoolers build a home alongside professionals for a nonprofit – was scrapped last year, and this year’s intended recipient was unable to offer a build. The sheds project and student remodel supplanted the student-built house for 2021. 

“The ACE Student-Built Sheds and ACE Student Remodel were born out of a desire to continue offering real-life building experience that translates into long-term, lifelong benefits to students and the home-building industry,” said Iowa City Area HBA VTC President Adam Hahn of Watts Group. “The projects fit with the VTC’s aim to support area school’s industrial technology programs to develop the home-building industry’s future workforce and opens doors to lucrative, high-demand career opportunities.”

Both ventures are a collaboration among the VTC, Kirkwood Community College, the City of Iowa City and the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD).

“We are excited that students are getting engaging, project-based education, which is important for solidifying learning. The projects are another way to move our ACE courses forward,” said ICCSD Career Technology Education Curriculum Coordinator Lindsey Schluckebier. “They are capstone endeavors, giving students the ability to use the skills they have learned previously. The best-case scenario is that involvement strikes a student’s interest and passion and causes them to consider a career in the construction industry.” 

ACE Student-Built Sheds
Thirty-four high school students are participating in the ACE Student-Built Sheds program, following plans provided by McCreedy-Ruth Construction. At ICCSD’s City and Liberty High Schools, the sheds – being built on school grounds – are in full swing as part of Kirkwood’s dual-credit ACE Academy class called Construction Lab. High school industrial technology teachers John Reynolds with City High and Micah Casper with Liberty are Kirkwood adjunct instructors. Kirkwood’s University of Iowa (Coralville) and Washington County Regional Centers are including the sheds in their Intro to ACE courses, while Iowa City West High School’s shed is through its carpentry class.

“During our year-long ACE class, we have learned about structure, safety, blueprint reading and working both individually and as a team. Our shed project is a perfect culmination of all of those skills,” said Kirkwood Washington Regional Center ACE Academy instructor Aaron McGlynn of Cabinet Works. “Most importantly, it’s hands on, and students are thoroughly enjoying getting in the mix and actually building.”

Kirkwood Construction Management Professor and ACE Faculty Advisor Joe Greathouse echoed those sentiments. “The lessons learned will not only provide technical knowledge, but also give students the opportunity to work with a client. Our industry is built on great relationships and these types of projects give students a glimpse into that role,” he said.

“The student-built sheds are a great example of the community coming together. The ICCSD CTE program and HBA members worked to make it happen,” said VTC member and past president Andy Martin of Martin Construction. “We’re making space for two families to use and the Grant Wood gardens    to expand (see chart), all while training future home-building employees.”

ACE Student Remodel

The ACE Student Remodel involves City and Liberty High Schools, also through the Kirkwood Construction Lab class. It’s been many years since City High School offered such a class, and the first time for Liberty.

The City of Iowa City is the project sponsor and owns the gutted Taylor Drive duplex being rebuilt. It is paying for materials and subcontractors. Engineered Building Design is donating trusses, being assembled by students at its facility. The up-to-date home will help Iowa City’s energy efficiency goals and provide housing for low-income families as part of its South District Homeownership Program.

“The extensive rehab required has allowed us to be creative in how each unit is improved, but we are also sensitive to the needs of future occupants regarding utilities costs,” said Iowa City Assistant City Manager Ashley Monroe. “We are excited that each side of the duplex will show different levels of energy efficiency and weatherization investment and thrilled to help foster a new generation of students who will build with sustainability in mind.”

Seventeen total students are enrolled in the two classes. The two-hour daily course is divided into classroom learning and hands-on training. Participants receive dual credit (high school and college).

Complementing instruction is a bevy of professionals, many who are Iowa City Area HBA members. They’re installing wiring, insulation, drywall, flooring and more.

“The real-world job-site experience with the mentorship of professionals that the partnership provides is priceless,” said City High’s Reynolds.

Because of COVID, instead of watching in person, students are observing via photos and progress tutorial videos. Classes rotate working on the renovation with their primary instructor when professionals are gone.

“All students and staff are masked and no more than 10 people are on site at any time,” said Iowa City Area HBA President GT Karr of Sueppel’s Siding & Remodeling, whose company is helping coordinate the project. “Students wear hard hats, vests and protective eyewear. Everyone is doing a great job of following safety protocols.”

Sheds and Remodel on Parade
All five ACE Student-Built Sheds and the finished ACE Student Remodel will appear on the 2021 Iowa City Area HBA Parade of Homes. Parade dates are June 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20, with the remodelers portion the last two days. Sheds will be on various parade-home properties, with two for sale (see chart).

Sueppel’s Siding & Remodeling is the ACE Student Remodel entry sponsor. A dedication and open house for the remodel is being held June 19, from 9 – 10 a.m. (2023 Taylor Drive).

“As we see mass shortages of workers in the construction field, projects such as the ACE Student Sheds and ACE Student Remodel are critical,” said Tim Ruth of McCreedy-Ruth Construction, the VTC’s vice president. “They give Iowa City Area HBA members a chance to show their careers to students and let them see the great opportunities available in our industry.”

ACE Student-Built Sheds Details by Project:

Host School Instructor Students Involved Sponsor Businesses Parade of Homes Location For Sale? Final Use
Iowa City
High School
John Reynolds 9 Materials Sponsor: Suburban Lumber Trusses Sponsor: Engineered Building Design Student-Built Remodel No Garden shed for Student-Built Remodel duplex home owner.
Iowa City West High School Keith Kraeplin 2 Materials Sponsor:  Alexander Lumber
Siding Sponsor: Lowe’s 
Trusses Sponsor: Engineered Building Design Additional Materials: Provided at Discount from Menards
To Be Announced No Tool shed for Grant Wood Elementary gardens, from which food is donated to CommUnity Food Bank.
Kirkwood CC Regional Center at University of Iowa Chris Caldwell 7 Materials Sponsor: Beisser Lumber
Trusses Sponsor: Engineered Building Design
To Be Announced Yes To be determined by purchaser. *
Kirkwood CC Regional Center Washington County Aaron McGlynn 8 Materials Sponsor: Gilcrest/Jewett
Trusses Sponsor: Engineered Building Design
To Be Announced Yes To be determined by purchaser. *
Liberty High School Micah Casper 8 Materials Sponsor: Suburban Lumber Trusses Sponsor: Engineered Building Design Student-Built Remodel No Garden shed for Student-Built Remodel duplex home owner.
*Money from the sale goes to The Greater Iowa City Area HBA Vocational Training Council to purchase tools for its Mobile Construction Lab and fund education for instructors and future projects. The VTC supports area schools and efforts to cultivate youth for skilled-trades employment.