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BRIGHT FUTURES — Memorial students building better future in construction tech class

On a recent warm, springtime day the roll-up door to the construction technology class at Memorial High School’s Career And Technology Education Building was open wide giving a view of picnic tables, a shed and shop tables filled with various carpentry tools.

The sweet smell of sawdust permeated the air as Malik Tompkins used a special vacuum to collect the powdered substance while Bryan Estupinan and Braulio Oceguera put finishing touches on a folding picnic table bench.

Soon, Lylliann Flores enters the scene and joins the group and instructor Eddie Patin.

The students in this program are preparing for their future in the multifaceted career field.

Malik Tompkins stands next to the custom mailbox holder he made for a customer. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Patin, who has been involved with the program for six years, said the average class size is about 19 students; but with the pandemic, the numbers are a bit different. This year there are 15 sophomores, 14 juniors and eight seniors.

Starting out, sophomores in the program learn the principles of construction and OSHA 10, a safety course. Juniors work toward and obtain their NCCER, or National Center for Construction Education and Research, certification while seniors work on Construction Technology II and can begin learning about the electrician field and begin IBEW apprenticeship.

Upon graduation, the students in the program will be certified to work in refineries, as well as in residential and commercial construction fields.

“Our students in class do all of the work other than me showing them how to do it,” Patin said. “For many, it’s the first time they’ve ever touched a hammer. Now they’re building sheds and picnic tables.”

Estupinan, a senior, is already NCCER certified and plans to become an electrician. He is already working with IBEW.

Oceguera, also a senior, wants to be a carpenter and is working with the Golden Triangle Empowerment Center while Tompkins plans to become an architect.

Flores, the manager of the class, has her sights set on the construction management program at Lamar University, she said.

Lylliann Flores is manager for the class. (Mary Meaux/The News)

How it works

“This (class) teaches them every area, from materials and estimating to clerical to intricate details such as talking to customers and getting them in all areas of the business,” Patin said. “If they want to be a carpenter, they can do that. If they want to own a carpentry company, they can do that, too.”

In the program students come up with a project they want to build.

They have to do research. They must have a materials list, blue prints and a cost.

Once approved, Flores gets to work ordering materials and more

“I took interest in getting my hands dirty then I took the class,” Flores said. “My interests are in being a leader and making sure things go according to plan.”

Taking orders

The program has been taking orders for custom storage sheds, picnic tables, outdoor furniture, bookshelves, dog houses and more.

Patin said most of the orders started coming in the past few months as more people ventured outside and businesses began to fully open.

The students see the work as an introduction to the real world, saying they learn more about how businesses operate than “average classes.”

There is still some time left, but not much, to put in an order. For more information, call 409-984-4777 or email eddie.patin@paisd.org.