Engineering students ‘deconstruct’ building

Matt Kuhns

A group of Iowa State construction engineering students will be doing some de-construction this Friday to learn practical skills and help out the local YMCA.

The ISU chapter of Associated General Contractors plans to tear down the YMCA’s old Interpretive Center as a service project, said Matt Gumm, AGC senior representative and senior in construction engineering.

Gumm said AGC is an association for union contractors in the construction industry. There are between 100 to 150 members in the ISU chapter, most of whom are construction engineering students.

YMCA Director Cathy Smelser said the Interpretive Center, located in a wooded area used by the YMCA, has fallen into “terrible disrepair,” and animals have begun to inhabit the building.

Gumm said he surveyed the site with other AGC members earlier in the year to plan an approach for the project and to determine what equipment was needed. He said because the center was not maintained properly, it is now “pretty much worthless.”

Since the building could not be renovated, the YMCA decided to have it removed before it becomes a hazard, Gumm said.

Thanks to AGC’s volunteers and Story County Construction, which is waiving the equipment rental fee for the project, the nonprofit YMCA is keeping costs at a minimum, Smelser said.

Gumm said he expects 15 to 20 AGC members will take part in the project. He said dismantling the center will provide members with experience in organization and basic construction techniques, though volunteers do not need special skills to help.

“If you can swing a hammer, you’ll be okay,” Gumm said.

AGC has done volunteer projects for the YMCA for the past few years, Smelser said, adding that she has been impressed with the group’s professionalism.

She said part of the YMCA’s mission is “to provide experiences for interpersonal and skill development,” which overlaps with some of AGC’s goals.

Smelser said once this project is completed, the YMCA will move ahead with plans to construct a new lodge.

The ISU chapter of AGC meets biweekly, and its members invite speakers from the construction industry to the meetings, Gumm said.

In addition to offering a chance to help the community and learn practical skills, Gumm said service projects provide opportunities for members to get to know one another.