MCC programs collaborate to offer real-world, hands-on learning experience

Published by The Bee News

February 16, 2024

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The in-class instruction received by students at Mohave Community College is invaluable, preparing them to bolster the area’s workforce or continue their education. However, the importance of real-world experiences cannot be overstated, which is why College disciplines are renewing efforts to collaborate and provide students with those opportunities.

MCC Electrical Technology Instructor Michael McKenzie said he has wanted to collaborate on projects with other disciplines at the College for some time. When Carpentry Instructor Dan Underwood reached out with that exact opportunity, McKenzie jumped on board.

“This is something I have been thinking about for years, getting portable buildings from a local vendor and having the students install the wiring as a kit,” McKenzie said. “This was our first attempt at it and I think it went pretty well.”

The process kicked off with the two instructors putting together a floor plan, after which electrical students started at square one, taking into consideration all that the “customer” wanted in the facility. Students then equipped the structure with AC, LED-efficient lighting, networking capabilities and more.

“The students came to the Bullhead City Campus well prepared with all materials required and a very good design,” Underwood said. “The participating students carried themselves as professional tradespeople, and completed the project in the exact time that was quoted by Mr. McKenzie.”

Electrical students from the Kingman campus traveled to MCC’s Bullhead City Campus to put the finishing touches on the approximately three-week long project. Those who couldn’t go to Bullhead put together a work schedule, a wiring diagram and more. The final layout was created by the entire class as a group effort, McKenzie said.

“There’s only so much we can simulate in our lab,” McKenzie continued. “We have some residential jigs and some commercial, but the real-world application, drilling holes and studs, pulling wire from the circuit breaker panel to the end device, doing the finish, many of these things are learned in real-world situations. To see the finished product, from a design page to a finished presentation to the customer, was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

McKenzie said that disciplinary interaction and collaboration is important because it takes two different trades that normally don’t work together. When they come together, students can see how transferable skills from each class stack and overlap with one another, and how communication can be increased between two different disciplines.

“You get two schools of thought involved in a project and that gives students the opportunity to experience that before they’re working in the real world and have to deal with those experiences,” McKenzie said.

Students had the opportunity to use tools they hadn’t used before and appreciated getting to see a project come to fruition from beginning to end. That includes all the unforeseen challenges that may come with such an effort, and the suggestions and compromises that are subsequently discussed between the parties.

“I think this was a great first step,” McKenzie said. “Now we can iron out the bugs. I’d even like to see community vendors that sell these structures get involved as a community package. We develop a package, they pay for materials, the students get hands on experience and they get a well-done electrical installation in their building, which increases their marketability to their customers.”

Click here for more information on MCC’s Electrical Program and here for more information on Carpentry offerings.

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