FMHS construction students win Nelson Challenge

BURLINGTON, Iowa – The Fort Madison High School building and trades students have added another feather to their caps.

The Fort Madison team took first place at the Carl A. Nelson & Company HIgh School Construction Skills Challenge Thursday afternoon.

Taking the prize for first place for the Bloodhounds was Jace Burgher, senior; Owen Kruse, junior; Laton Denning, sophomore; Landes Williams, sophomore, and Chay Smith, junior. Their teacher is Clint Kobelt. It was the second win by FMHS in the three years of the event.

Carl A. Nelson & Company, a 106-year-old design-build, construction management and general contracting firm based in Burlington, Iowa, on Thursday hosted its third annual High School Construction Skills Challenge for area construction trades students.

Teams of five students apiece from five area high schools came to test the skills they have learned in school.

Participating in the 2019 Construction Skills Challenge were Burlington High School, West Burlington High School, Mediapolis High School, Fort Madison High School and Keokuk High School.

Students progressed through a series of modules, including:
• Hanging a hollow steel door;
• Setting a concrete form;
• Building floor joists, and;
• Installing drywall on metal studs.
The students also were given a knowledge test.

For students who primarily learn skills associated with home construction in their classes at school, the annual event at Carl A. Nelson & Company, which is timed to coincide with the observation of Master Builders of Iowa’s Construction Week, the tasks laid out for them cause the students to apply what they have learned to new situations.

“Some of it is a challenge. Definitely a lot of them have not done anything like this, but we do it that way on purpose to show them what else is out there, and what they would be doing,” said Mike Harris, general superintendent at Carl A. Nelson & Company.

The event also serves as a recruitment tool for Carl A. Nelson & Company, by exposing students to the company and its personnel, and helping the company spot young talent.

Each challenge was worked as a team, as judges looked for degree of completion, build quality, safety and cleanliness.

Taking second place was the team from Mediapolis High School. Team members were Carter Hastings, senior; Joseph Lippert, junior; Alex Diewold, senior; Hunter Liles, senior; and Clayton Vorwerk, senior. Their teacher is Nathan Fritz.

The prizes for the Top 2 places were gift cards — $400 for first place, $200 for second place – to purchase needed equipment or supplies for the Construction Trades programs at the winning schools.

Lunch was catered for the students and Carl A. Nelson & Company personnel by Hy-Vee.

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