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Down and Dirty

Senior Brandon Downey gets involved with construction site

November 2, 2015

As the school year progresses, students and faculty are becoming accustomed to bounding hallway barriers and covert construction clamors. Although most people will only witness the exposed portions of the building, senior Brandon Downey spent the summer getting involved in the undisclosed construction process.

“I officially worked at Millard North as a laborer/intern. I’m familiar with the school so I knew the layout better than any of the others workers. Subcontractors would come and ask me about where rooms and certain parts of the building where. But most of the time with the large amount of rain, I was pumping water,” Downey said.

Downey worked hands-on with employees from Lund-Ross Constructors, the company that was awarded a renovation contract with MPS. In the past, Downey has been exposed to the safety aspect of engineering, but is new to direct assembly.

“I’ve been going to job sites with my dad since I was 6 years old. Since he’s a safety consultant, he would just sneak us in. I’ve been shadowing my dad for safety but this is my first time actually working construction,” Downey said.

While Downey has been exposed to construction sites, working on a job site poses a diverse set of obstacles. It provides a unique outlet for carrying out application skills on a larger scale that were developed in the classroom.

“I’m used to everything working 100 percent of the time, but that didn’t happen sometimes. It was interesting starting from ground zero and working myself up. I had to be treated like I didn’t know much. I knew the basics, but there was a lot to learn,” Downey said.

Not only did Downey absorb information about technical aspects of construction, he was pressed to surpass its practical hurdles as well. The renovation project was undergoing early stages during the summer, so the site was constantly blanketed in mud.

“I got stuck in the mud quite a bit. I have wide feet, so the boots didn’t fit until the last week. I was usually able to get myself out, but my shoes came off a couple times,” Downey said.

While the MN construction consisted of ground work and foundational tasks, Downey also worked with Lund-Ross for renovations at MPS Rockwell Elementary, doing concluding tasks.

“For a week at Rockwell, I swung doors which was a lot of fun. That’s basically setting up doors, screwing those in, motoring set door frames, and a lot of that kind of stuff. Rockwell was really close to being done, so it was more door work and carpentry work, which is the king of thing I enjoy,” Downey said.

As a senior, Downey hope to pursue engineering in the future, and this projects provide an outlet for him to obtain real-world experience in the field.

“I knew I was going to go into construction. You have to start from somewhere. I figured I might as well start in high school and make some money,” Downey said.

Much like Downey, Lund-Ross workers started from stage zero in late June when they began the renovation project. The team hit a milestone when they placed a blue topping beam in the front of the school.

“In late July, we secured the beam in the front. The blue beam is one of the first parts of the school that will be visible from the main entrance,” Lund-Ross Supervisor, Andy Kavan said.

Not only was this beam a checkpoint, it was also an ever-lasting mark of those who secured it. Before the beam was placed, administrators and workers signed their names on its underside. Downey was part of this noticeable group.

“When we were putting up the blue beam, some of the administration and workers signed their names on it. We had Brandon do to the same since he had been part of the daily process. Now his name is permanently on the school,” Kavan said.

The placement of the beam marks the progression of a modern building that’s going to change the presence of MN for years to come.

“The main reason I love construction is because it will last for years and possibly even longer than I will live. Thinking of that amazes me every time. I’m leaving my mark on Millard North,” Downey said.

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