If You Build It, They Will Learn

TCA middle school building construction offers on-site engineering lessons

Trinity Christian Academy expects to open its new middle school building in August 2022, but students aren’t having to wait anywhere near that long to receive instruction in the space.

The construction site has become a learning lab of sorts for seventh-and eighth-grade high-tech robotics classes and upper school students taking honors engineering design.

Representatives of contractor Balfour Beatty have used site tours to introduce students to construction science and management.

Balfour’s “student mentoring program allows students to acquire a general understanding of the construction process through each phase of construction,” senior project manager David Monroe said.

The initial session in the fall explored site prep, designs of the fortified library that will serve as a storm shelter, and foundation construction.

“This program is for students interested in pursuing a career in architecture, construction, and engineering industries where they can receive interaction with industry experts and exposure to a variety of career paths,” Monroe said. 

Camille Barton, a TCA mom, engineer, and CEO of Purdy-McGuire Inc., has lent her expertise, too.

During a class visit, she walked students through mechanical, electrical, and plumbing designs for the building.

Honors engineering teacher Lisa Wong’s upper school students have learned about design, manufacturing, and supply chain. 

“Taking this tour allowed the students to see first-hand construction in action,” Wong said. “They saw how many different types of engineers – such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, architectural, etc. –are needed for production of this magnitude.”

Constructing a building may not be the same as building a robot, but design lessons from the tours weren’t lost on middle school students, technology/robotics teacher Felicia Townley said.

“Being able to hear and see the design process unfold from the months of detailed research and planning, the communication and collaboration involved, to seeing the ideas and sketches being built have given the students a better understanding of what we are doing in my class when we are working through the design process,” Townley said. “I think one of the biggest takeaways for the students is how important the research and planning steps are in the design process.”

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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