This course in Construction Technology introduces students to the basics of construction, building systems, engineering principles, urban planning, and sustainability. Students will learn the key techniques in building all types of buildings, as well as the key individuals involved in each step of the process. Many lessons present information on green building techniques and concepts that are becoming a standard part of the construction industry. Safety practices are emphasized in several lessons because construction is one of the most dangerous industries; students will learn that there is no way to be successful in construction without taking such issues seriously. Toward this end, the lessons also explore regulatory agencies and guidelines established for protecting not only construction workers but also the occupants of a building.
- Unit 1: Introduction to Careers in Construction Technology: This unit introduces students to the construction process before it discusses careers in detail. Student are introduced to current trends in technology and the types of drawings—floor plan, site plan, and elevation view—that nearly all construction workers need to be able to read. Students then explore various construction careers such as those of civil engineers, general contractors, excavators, masons, ironworkers, electricians and others. We discuss how many of these workers learn their skills through an apprenticeship that moves to a journeyman position before they finally earn master status.
- Unit 2: Building Life-Cycle Assessment and Regulation: This unit puts the buildings front and center. First, students learn to apply the life-cycle assessment process to buildings, which helps them see how their work and the decisions they make affect a building’s longevity and functionality. This is the course’s introduction into issues of sustainability and energy efficiency. This unit also focuses on job-site safety and building codes. Students also explore building codes, inspection procedures, and construction risk management along with the duties of a building inspector and the home inspector. Finally, students are introduced to urban planning and zoning, and learn about the history of urban sprawl. Students will learn about regional planning and the New Urbanism, which seeks to shape the built environment into something more sustainable and less taxing on our limited natural resources.
- Unit 3: Building Materials and Methods of Construction 1: This is the first of two units that focus on building materials and methods of construction. First students explore building foundations. Different buildings need different types of foundations and knowing how to properly construct them all is the work of the concrete worker and the mason. In lessons on steel frame construction, we take a brief look at the history of mass-produced steel. Students also explore jobs such as that the ironworker, the individual often perched many floors above street level, welding and riveting steel beams into place. Turning from commercial to residential construction, the next few lessons focus on heavy timber-frame construction and light-frame construction. Finally, students learn about builders and labor/management relations.
- Unit 4: Building Materials and Methods of Construction 2: The second unit of building materials and methods of construction is divided between lessons on roofs, the building envelope, cladding, and the field of building science. Students learn about a roof’s structural importance to the building and its various components. Students also learn about roofing truss systems, based on the triangle, uniquely engineered for strength and durability. Finally, commercial roofs and roofing materials are explained, along with the duties of the professional roofer. The first chapter’s final lesson introduces students to green roofs and solar roofs. In the next chapter students explore the concept of the building envelope, the system that serves as a barrier between the interior and the exterior world. Next, a building’s skin—its cladding—is discussed, and students will learn that a structure’s cladding and its envelope are not one and the same. Finally, students explore the academic discipline of building science, especially its quest to make buildings stronger and more impervious to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
- Unit 5: Green Technology, Sustainability, and Preservation: The final unit focuses on green technology, sustainability, and preservation—all subjects that have been touched on before, but now they become the star of the show. Sustainable construction and green construction codes comes first. A close look at green building materials is next. Students also explore “green” jobs in the construction industry. The course’s last chapter focuses on historical preservation and adaptive reuse.