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Construction teacher brings diverse background to the classroom

Gabriel Knapp Photography
Dr. Patrick Foster in his classroom

Amidst the banging hammers and firing nail guns, Dr. Patrick Foster advises his students to watch their fingers and to make calculated decisions.The class is learning that well thought-out plans help prevent problems for the future.

“I think people should have an intellectual side and hands on problem-solving side,” said Foster.  “It makes both thought processes better.”

Students collaborate with each other to finish their current projects while Foster oversees the class and lends his experienced perspective as necessary.

“He’s a very good teacher and knows a lot of stuff that people should know,”
says Thomas McCarthy, a construction technology major in Foster’s framing class. “I just love talking to him about everyday stuff.”

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Foster, who has been the chair of the construction technologies department for the last six years, has a degree in philosophy and his doctorate in religious studies. He recently published two philosophical books through Amazon. Foster’s pursuit of architecture began when he was in eighth grader.  He loved it so much that his family took him to Europe to expose him to different styles of building design.

Foster’s passion for architecture began in eighth grade. His parents took him to Europe to expose him to different styles of building design. Foster said he dragged his brother to every architectural site.

Years later, during his second year at University of Southern California, Foster said he was “bitten” after taking his first philosophy class.  That class caused his life to take an abrupt turn in an unforeseen direction.

“I quit architecture and my parents freaked,” Foster said.  Despite his adoration for construction, “I told them, ‘this stuff is really interesting. I have to pursue this.’”

After receiving his degree in philosophy, Foster traveled to India for a year in 1969 where he taught and worked as a carpenter.

He later taught in Maine at an Owner-Builder school where people learned how to build their own houses.

Realizing that he wanted to get more involved with teaching, Foster went back to school. He eventually returned to California to put his degrees to work at the Oaks Grove School in Ojai.

He worked at Oaks Grove for seven years until he heard of a job opening with the drafting department at City College. Foster was contacted to help teach a class to accommodate an overflow of students.

In 2006, when the college needed someone to head the Construction Technologies department, Foster’s extensive background in architecture made him the prime candidate for the job, which he holds to this day.

“So then I just started building classes,” said Foster.

The two books Foster has written “Worldview Project” and “The Last Guru,” are philosophical books that are themed around changing the current human perspective.

“It clears your mind to do construction and just sit down and think,” Foster said.  “It’s not like I wrote them over night.”

“Worldview Project,” which was amassed over 15 years of reflection, is a strike at the problems that we are currently being faced with internationally as a race.

“The things we have been trying haven’t been working well,” said Foster.  “I want to get these ideas out there, so we can get a dialogue started.”

Similarly the “Last Guru” both praises and criticizes the guru Jiddu Krishnamurti, a man who committed himself to making the world a better place.

Matt Allen, a construction technology major, is in three of Foster’s classes this semester.

“Companies don’t have the time to show you the big picture of construction,” said Allen.  “He’s really knowledgeable, and it’s just a better process which keeps the student’s interested.”

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