Construction course builds student success with safe in-person classes


Ryan. P Cruz

File photo of City College’s Wake Campus which was obtained with the contributions from Jeanne and Harold ‘Hal’ Thornton.

Cole Federbusch, Staff Writer

The Construction Technology Program pushes on with in-person classes this semester as they continue to provide jobs and opportunities to students throughout the pandemic. 

Since the initial shutdowns last March, Santa Barbara City College has been empty except for a few classes. The Construction Technology Program is one of those exceptions.

“Starting in March, with this whole process of distanced learning and trying to figure out Zoom,” said Construction Technology instructor, Rod Utt. “It was such a treat to have individuals back in my classroom,”

City College’s Construction Technology program is known for providing jobs and opportunities to students straight out of college. This makes the department’s functionality during COVID-19, vital to the overall success of SBCC students. 

In order to keep instructions in-person, the department must adhere to strict state mandates. The students must be separated by six feet, fill out health questionnaires and undergo a temperature test before entering the workspace.

“The only roadblock I had when teaching the in-person classes was including the persons who couldn’t be there or chose not to,” said Utt. “The real challenge is combining in-person learning and distance learning.”

This transition to socially-distanced, in-person learning has its obstacles.

Only about half of his students came to the in-person labs and the other half viewed the lab over Zoom. 

Patrick Foster, Construction Technology department director, said that two-thirds of his participants are already working in the construction industry or will receive work through the program’s connections.

“Trades are vitally important for a couple of reasons,” said Foster. “Education-wise, not everyone is going on a professional track and trades are a great way to make a living…and the other thing is the backlog of infrastructure work that the whole country has.” 

Foster said that Biden’s Build Back Better plan will create steady jobs in the construction industry and that through his own connections, students have access to local contractors. 

Currently, Foster’s program provides hands-on learning, while supplying job opportunities in a time when both are scarce. 

“It’s a trade and a calling, we should never forget that,” Foster said.