Field Lab Manager Mike Hosey Shares Knowledge and Skills
Mike Hosey started teaching at Auburn’s McWhorter School of Building Science thirteen years ago. “It was a two year gig and I’m still here!” Hosey jokes. He currently teaches Construction Field Lab, the service learning course that is a graduation requirement for every building science student. The Robins & Morton Construction Field Lab is constantly busy with Hosey’s students as they apply their classroom learning to hands-on construction work.
A construction company owner with over 40 years of experience in the industry, Hosey has been employed by companies large and small and has worked as a laborer, carpenter, superintendent, project manager and estimator. When he began teaching as a Visiting Industry Professor at Auburn, Hosey was a little uncertain about whether his skills would translate to teaching but quickly found that he enjoyed being in the classroom. “My experience has been that these students are like a sponge and they love having somebody who actually has done it,” he said. He realized it would be very effective to have students in his temporary structures class learn certain construction concepts and processes by actually building concrete formwork, so he approached school head Richard Burt and offered to provide tools to help students bring drawings and designs to life. This need for outdoor space led to the establishment of the field lab facility, and when the school decided to incorporate service learning projects into the curriculum, Hosey began teaching the Construction Field Lab course.
In the two years that he has been teaching the course, he has led students in completing dozens of projects. He works with local non-profits like Habitat for Humanity, the Kreher Forest Preserve and Exodus Ranch, and his students have built homes for veterans, helped with tornado recovery in Beauregard, Alabama, and even created a canine training course on campus. Hosey encourages his students to choose projects they’re passionate about.
At the beginning of the semester, each team of students chooses a project and creates a client proposal. They develop a weekly work plan and then create an owner communication plan complete with photos. Hosey requires students to submit new plans each week with goals, activities and necessary materials. He also requires a safety plan and ensures they have been adequately trained. He says it’s important that the students learn to think through the details of every single thing that needs done. “They’re learning not just to build,” he said, “they’re learning the processes that you have to go through in order to be successful and accomplished in your project.” He meets students whenever and wherever they need him and stays on call 24/7, heading to the field lab or to a job site on evenings, weekends or any time the students want to work.
Hosey’s favorite part of teaching is that he gets to share his knowledge with students. “I love it because students are getting the idea that construction is not about punching a time clock in a 40 hour week. Construction is about having a project ahead of you and being excited and jumping in there and making things happen.” He hopes that in addition to teaching construction skills and techniques he’s also helping his students to develop a strong work ethic. “It’s being a good person, doing what you say you’re going to do. That translates into success in our industry.”
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