People may little notice the small house taking shape on the edge of Southwestern Michigan College, but it represents a new interdisciplinary approach to learning that gives students work experience, officials say.
The project is the brainchild of SMC Business and Advanced Technology Dean Stacy Horner. She wanted to find ways for students from different departments to work together on a project. Planning began last spring, ground was broken last fall and students are now halfway through completing the 504-square-foot house.
Work includes art students deciding on interior and exterior colors and shingle and siding patterns, welding students building a rain harvesting system, science students working on rain purification systems and business students tracking costs.
Information technology students will get more involved next year as work shifts to the interior. They’ll find ways to make the house “smart” regarding technology. The house features a great room with living, dining and kitchen space, a 12-by-12-foot bedroom and a full bathroom.
“It’s a true residential structure,” Advanced Technology School Chairman Larry Wilson said. “It’s built to the Michigan Residential Code and will be able to be placed anywhere in the state.”
Wilson and his construction trade students are doing the lion’s share of the work. First-year students do much of the physical work while second-year students spend more time in the classroom, learning the “science” behind what they’re doing and how to run their own business.
A project goal is making the house environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
“We want to build it as green as possible,” Wilson said. “We had big discussions about what type of siding to use. We’re going with engineered wood, which uses fewer trees.