BSCI Students Impact Community Through Service

BSCI Service Learning Fall 2023

Each semester, students in Auburn’s McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI) have the opportunity to engage in hands-on work with a community non-profit project under direction of BSCI faculty.

In Fall 2023, students were led by Associate Professor and Service Learning Program Chair Alan Bugg; Senior Lecturers Hunter McGonagill and Bob Muir; and Senior Lecturer and Field Lab Manager Jonathan Tucker.

“This past semester we had 60 kids divided into six teams of 10,” Tucker said. “Students have ten weeks to complete construction once budget and schedule are approved.”

Tucker mentioned that typically, there would be six projects. However, due to two groups expressing interest in the same project, he proceeded with five.

“The first thing we ask of the client is scope,” Tucker shared. “How do they envision it? Next is location. What does the site look like? And lastly, their expectations.”

Service learning clients are provided with a detailed estimate, a realistic schedule and a comprehensive presentation. Materials are donated by BSCI’s non-profit partners.

BSCI’s Fall 2023 Service Learning project lineup presented students with a variety of challenges.

  • Two of the six teams prefabricated walls for a Habitat for Humanity house.
  • A third group constructed a handicap ramp, new handrails and new sidewalks for The Curtis House, a non-profit community center in Opelika, improving the client’s accessibility and ADA compliance.
  • At the Tallapoosa Girls Ranch, a family-style home for at-risk youth, a fourth team built a 20’ x 30’ pole-barn structure for storage.
  • A fifth group worked at Exodus Ranch, where up to 15 children are fostered at the same time, and built a playhouse for older kids, with a raised platform and an obstacle course.
  • The last team worked with the foster organization Big House, designing and building new easy-to-use donation boxes.

“I have consistently seen the transformative impact this course has on every student,” Tucker said. “Experiential learning significantly enhances their readiness for both the demands of industry and the challenges of life.”