Dog houses custom-built by six Mississippi State building construction science majors now are benefiting a Starkville animal rescue.
As part of a university community engagement project, the students in assistant professor Tom Leathem’s first-ever building construction science summer studio course created the houses for Grassroots Animal Rescue of Mississippi Inc.
GARM is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization serving North Mississippi and surrounding areas. For more, see www.grassrootsanimalrescue.com.
“One of the components of this class is for students to complete a small building project,” Leathem said. “In the past, we have done projects for fundraising opportunities to help support student-related learning, but we hadn’t yet done something with a local non-profit.”
Part of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, MSU’s building construction science program is one of only two studio-based construction programs in the U.S. Because of its summer studio schedule, Leathem’s students met 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday during the June term.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to build something as large as in the past, but the project still needed to be something that would give the students the knowledge of construction,” he explained. “That is when I got the idea for the students to build dog houses that could be donated.”
After learning from a colleague that a local animal rescue needed houses for medium-sized dogs, he instructed the six students to begin by researching canines of that size and issues concerning their housing in the Southeast. Also, in a week’s time, they were required to design and construct houses that could be disassembled and reassembled for ease of transport.
As an additional part of the learning process, each member was assigned a budget. Those who found themselves going over-budget had to complete a redesign, Leathem said.
A former senior project manager for an Illinois construction company, he said it was interesting how the students came “to work together on the materials needed in order to save money and hit the budget. Some students could share materials to reduce waste, and this collaboration and communication was critical to the success of the project.”
Leathem’s summer studio included (by hometown):
BOLIVAR, Tennessee–Junior Charles M. “Chipper” Cary.
GLEN–Junior Hunter Burcham.
JACKSON–Sophomore Wesley Kerce.
MADISON–Sophomore Omar A. Ali.
SLIDELL, Louisiana–Junior Regan E. Horn.
UNION–Junior Caleb Crenshaw.
Late last week, the student-builders presented their completed projects to GARM volunteers Jessica and Ryan Thompson. Jessica Thompson also is an MSU English instructor.
Leathem said he found the inaugural summer studio experience doubly exciting since “the BCS program was able to do something that benefited a good cause like the Grassroots Animal Rescue, while also teaching our students valuable fundamentals critical to their development in the construction management profession.”
In addition to enhancing their knowledge of building conventions, estimating practices and project management, he said the assignment taught students how hard work can turn a design on paper into something real and useful. “I have always felt that our program has a unique opportunity to connect with the community, and I hope we will be able to find more opportunities like this one in the future,” he added.