Masonry Education For The Future

Words: Robert Gresko, Building Construction Faculty Member; Carol Lugg, Dean for School of Construction and Design Technologies; and Justin Bowers, Training and Development at EaCo Chem  
Photos: Pennsylvania College of Technology  

The Building Construction Technology Department at Pennsylvania College of Technology offers associate and bachelor’s degrees that fit the needs of the construction industry. Along with general education coursework, the students learn in active laboratory and off-campus learning environments under the direction of instructors skilled in the trades and who have experience working in the industry.  

Students complete coursework in general masonry principles, and then advance to stone masonry, fireplace construction, and structural masonry systems. Students pursuing their associate degree in masonry also complete coursework in construction safety, site prep, drafting and print reading, framing principles, concrete construction, and codes. Estimating, scheduling, and management coursework ensures students are prepared for the managerial side at the introductory level.  

In this particular area of study, students have the opportunity to take a training course that is heavily focused on the final stages of masonry, which they will experience out in the field post-graduation. Cleaning detergents manufacture EaCo Chem and Penn College teamed up three years ago to educate students on the various techniques of preserving and restoring masonry to ensure they are prepared.  

Before the training, the students constructed skilled projects under the direction of Instructor Robert Gresko. These projects educated each student on the fundamental skills it takes to work in the masonry field. This class, along with the others at the college, give the students an upper hand when moving on to the next phase of their career path.  

During the training, we begin with a classroom presentation that goes over all the possible scenarios they may encounter and which EaCo Chem products are best for certain situations. After the classroom portion of the training, the students then get to participate hands-on by cleaning some of the projects they built during the semester in class. 

This training course has been great for the students to learn about problematic situations that can occur during different construction phases and scenarios, how to prevent them, and even how to treat or clean certain experiences. The EaCo Chem Training consists of a classroom presentation going over certain products that are useful for specific situations and also how to apply these products when in the field. Some of the discussions involve cleaning up mortar stains, efflorescence, and standard dirt and debris from newly constructed masonry sites. Restoration-style cleaning is also presented for tuckpointing, environmental growth removal, and carbon soot staining. Mainly covering two products manufactured by EaCo Chem, NMD80 and Onerestore. 

Upon completing the associate degree that developed strong technical skills, students may choose to complete a bachelor’s degree in Residential Construction Technology and Management by continuing their education for two more years. Students are exposed to advanced managerial courses that include residential management, land development, construction safety and advanced coursework in estimating and building systems.  

An attractive option for students is to consider completing dual degrees in Masonry, Building Construction Technology (emphasizing carpentry) or Concrete Science Technology. These two associate degrees can be completed in reduced time, typically in an extra semester or additional year, and students leave with a broad, practical skill set that is valued by the industry.  

Penn College provides a full college experience with opportunities to participate in NCAA Division III athletics and in a broad array of student clubs and organizations. The college was recently ranked 3rd in the northeast region as Most Innovative Schools by U.S. News and World Report. The Building Construction Technology Department was recently awarded the Home Education Leadership Grant by the National Housing Endowment, the philanthropic arm of the National Association of Home Builders.  

The grant funding provided the seed money to launch a PA Build My Future event on campus in the fall of 2018. This event enabled industry professionals to engage over 700 high school students with hands-on activities, to learn about the career opportunities within the construction and design industry. The School of Construction and Design Technologies was also awarded a $1 million National Science Foundation grant through the S-STEM Scholarship program, to provide scholarships and early industry engagement to students with high ability and low income. The program is in its second year and the first-year cohort of scholars were all in paid internship positions after their first academic year at the college.  

Pennsylvania College of Technology is a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University and is a national leader in applied technology education. Since its inception in 1914, when the institution gained national attention for its efforts to fight joblessness during the Great Depression, the institution has educated work-ready graduates that are ready to make immediate impact in the workforce.