Electrical Construction Students Rewire Flood-Ravaged Homes

Back row: Andrey Resnikov, Carl Schollmier, Adam Stuessel, Billy Cook, Steven Sloheid
Front row: Wendy Bell, Mike Buck (instructor), Rachel Lusk, Kent Gainsforth, Adam Herrmann, Matt Toombs.

More than 20 Dakota County Technical College second-year electrical construction students used the skills they learned at DCTC to help out two families in flood-ravaged Rushford, Minn.

The students teamed up with their instructors, Bruce Hansberger and Mike Buck, and the local electrical workers union to rewire two, single-family homes that were destroyed after the floods in August.

“Working on the houses was a great experience. Not only did we get to do something good in the community, but we used everything we have learned at DCTC to get the job done,” student Craig Jalbert said.

The service-learning project was made possible through the work of DCTC instructor Ron Gruenes and his connections in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 343, providing students the opportunity to rewire the houses under the supervision of the union workers and DCTC instructors.

“Our students demonstrated that they have the skills necessary to be successful in this field,” Buck said. “They really took pride in their work, and I got the feeling the union workers were impressed with our students’ abilities.”

The two houses supplied students the opportunity to work on a wide variety of rewiring projects. Jalbert, for example, had the task of tracking down upstairs wires.

Electrical construction student Pete Simones worked both outside and inside, installing the service panel and meter socket.

“I had done this kind of work before, but not at this scale,” Simones said. “I jumped at the chance to get this kind of experience.”

Student Steve Kelly rewired the first floor dining room and bedroom. The bedroom was a difficult job because it had an adjoining bathroom that was no longer going to be used, making it necessary to rewire without it going through the unused bathroom.

Another student, Jeff Lentsch, was part of a team that rewired the basement.

“It was a very valuable experience,” Lentsch said. “I had some experience in the trade before I came here but the instruction I got at school really came in handy.”

After two days of work, the teams were able to turn both houses back over the homeowners, who were thankful for the work the team completed.

“Our students showed that they are high-caliber professionals,” Hansberger said. “They did a great job.”