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CVTC Residential Construction Students Build Home for Eco Village

Matt Matzek will use the skills he learned in the Residential Construction program at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in River Falls in his new job and for the rest of his life.

Matzek, 18, a Plum City native, was one of ten recent program graduates at CVTC’s River Falls campus, and one of two who was quickly hired by an Osceola construction company.

Matzek learned energy-conservation construction methods while building a home this school year, and he believes those entering the program next year will learn even more when students construct a twin home as part of the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity’s (SCVHH) Eco Village project.

“I learned so much in this program about how to build a ‘green’ house,” Matzek said, referring to ecological and energy-saving methods. “We did a lot of energy-saving things on the house we just finished, from the types of materials we used to insulation and other things, but those students working on the next house will learn even more.”

“I didn’t know anything about how a house was put together before I started in this program,” Matzek added. “I learned something new every day; from roofing to siding, and everything from sanding to finishing work.”

“What surprised me was that I didn’t realize how much work and detail has to go into a house,” Matzek said, adding that he had no construction experience before entering the program. “For anyone interested in building, this is the place to be. I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for this program and the people who taught me.”

Matzek hopes to be running his own construction business in five to seven years.  “I’m confident I could build a house by myself,” he said. “I gained so much confidence in this program; things that will help me the rest of my life.” Mike Ming, Residential Construction instructor at CVTC’s River Falls campus, said the Eco Village project will offer “tremendous opportunities for the residential construction students at CVTC.”

“It’s going to expose them to a lot of new materials and new construction concepts; different

than the normal construction,” Ming said. “The homes we have built are greener, but the increasing energy-saving methods using recyclables is gaining popularity.”

“By working on the Eco Village project next year, CVTC students will get a good advantage over anyone else trying to get into this in the construction field,” he said.

Ming was referring to the use of insulated concrete forms, metal roofing, solar energy incorporation, and other practices. Students will have from mid-August to early May to complete the house.

“Students will be doing the green construction they’ve done before, but adding more,” he said. “It will be quite the learning experience.”  The Eco Village will have a total of 18 single and twin homes built on seven acres of land donated by the City of River Falls. Much of the labor and materials is donated to the project.

Pete Morsch, resource development manager for SCVHH, calls its partnership with CVTC “a great fit.”  “We’re getting a quality-built home every year through CVTC’s program, and their students are gaining valuable educational experience in green construction.”

“Students in that program will get the hands-on experience they will need when entering the job market,” Morsch added. “CVTC has a good reputation of building high-quality stuff.”

Morsch said CVTC students will get “a challenge” with the three-bedroom twin home design, which will have a slab grade and a walkout on sloping terrain. “I think they’ll meet that challenge,” he said. “It certainly will be a learning experience.”