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Hands-on Learning Flourishes at Wayne State




“Who’s going to do this?” Jim Gollyhorn asked a crew of Wayne State College industrial technology students as they surrounded the partial frame of a building. A volunteer stepped forward to start on the boards.


“Measure, then cut,” he instructed.


Sawdust again fluttered through the air, carrying the scent of freshly cut fir.


Gollyhorn is a first-year assistant professor of construction management at Wayne State, and his construction systems class stepped out of the Benthack Applied Science building on campus to work on a project in a Wayne resident’s backyard. Gollyhorn’s class is just one of many examples of the hands-on learning available at Wayne State.


Pat Quance has been a general contractor for 50 years. He and his wife Marilyn, a technical services librarian at Wayne State, have remodeled several rooms in their home, including the addition of golden birch cabinetry in their kitchen. Pat has a crew that takes on jobs locally, throughout Nebraska and even out of state.  He says because of his good crews, most of the time he doesn’t even have to be on the job site.


But he was present for this project. The class built the Quances a tool shop behind their garage, which Pat had planned to do himself. Pat’s crew prepared the concrete foundation but, because of other jobs, was unable to devote more time to the project. Marilyn suggested recruiting a Wayne State class that previously completed a basement project for their neighbor, who is Marilyn’s co-worker. Near the end of the semester and out of lab work for the class, Gollyhorn accepted the request.


 “Jim said, ‘We need a job to do today,’ so I said, ‘Get over here,’” Pat Quance recalls. “A little hands-on for them don’t hurt anything.”


Before starting on the frame, Quance gave the students a talk on tool safety and provided everyone with safety glasses for the project. The new shop could not be attached to the existing older garage, so the class had the challenge of building it up as a free-standing structure.


“It’s good that we could build something besides a module that we have to tear down,” senior James Krier said. Krier has a double major in drafting and construction management.


Gollyhorn enjoyed building a relationship with another experienced individual in the field and saw the gesture as a way for his students to get excited about helping a member of the Wayne State family and serving their community.


 “That’s what these kids want to do,” Gollyhorn said. “Hands-on kids like less classroom.”


Garret Bedke, a drafting and planning and construction management double major, is one of those students who prefers to work outdoors and has gained a lot of knowledge already in his freshman year, saying how beneficial it was to learn first-hand on the job site.


Other students participating in the project were Brandon Bruha, Ryan Cain, Dexter Dodson, Paul Dolezal, Tanner Gebers, Justin Hart, John Heath, Lee Horky, Shawn Koehler, Tucker Lancaster, Brady Marksmeier, Stuart Mohl, Corey Nolen, Blake Patterson, Jeffrey Pokorny, Justin Schoenrock and Tristan Trost.


Adding to the learning potential, Quance shared his knowledge and life stories along the way. The students also used his equipment because he’s “got about every tool known to man.” Since the students were so willing to get their hands dirty, Quance returned the favor by donating a construction calculator and a new laser level with a tripod, a piece of equipment the college did not have but the class members would need to use in their careers.


Before another day on the job was done, Quance picked up a level, checking that the frame was straight. “Perfect,” Gollyhorn said to him with confidence. Quance nodded in agreement.



Pat Quance gives Brandon Bruha a hand with one of the boards as other students prepare to add it to the tool shed's frame.



(L to R) Corey Nolen, Shawn Koehler and Stuart Mohl measure the boards that will complete the building's frame.


The job site is an outdoor classroom for these Wayne State students. Professor Jim Gollyhorn explains a procedure to freshman Garret Bedke.


Pat Quance double checks if the frame is level as Jim Gollyhorn looks over his shoulder.

photo Tucker Lancaster measures and marks where the lumber needs to be cut. Garret Bedke, Professor Jim Gollyhorn and Ryan Cain work in the background.

Tristan Trost and Garret Bedke inspect their work as Ryan Cain checks the frame with a level.


All hands were on deck in Pat and Marilyn Quance's backyard recently. Several Wayne State students gained hands-on experience outside the classroom as Pat, a veteran contractor, kept watch on their progress.


While his professor and classmates work on the shed frame, Dexter Dodson trims the boards with a circular saw.


Blake Patterson uses a nail gun to finish off an area of the tool shed frame.



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