Great Humans: Civil Students Assist Local Church

06 Dec 2018

Vermont Tech students love to help their community. Over the spring semester, four Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology (CET) students participated in a basement renovation project at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. The church was built in 1864 and still sported the original dirt floor basement. The students were to determine the proper elevation of the dirt floor to minimize the need to bring material in or remove it. A contractor was then hired and, using a student’s design, leveled the floor, covered the dirt with waterproof plastic, then poured and finished the concrete. The four students, led by Derek Bevins, volunteered their time outside of class to see this project through.

Our students, along with Professor John Diebold, met with church representatives like Allen Clark, Paul Ohlson, and Phil Morse to better understand the scope of the project. The students then surveyed the basement and came up with a number of designs.  CET senior, Derek Bevins’ design (see below) was selected and was used to assist the contractor in completing the project.

Allen Clark described the project as a win-win for the students and the church. While the church was getting a new design pro bono, the students all received work experience they can take into their future careers.

“They knew what they were doing,” said Mr. Clark. He mentioned that the students were all nice guys and incredibly hard workers. “They took turns being the ‘crew boss’. So they all got to learn.”

Professor Diebold was there for initial implementation and supervision and remained a constant advisor for the students, however, the CET seniors were able to complete the project without much direct oversight.

Derek says it was challenging to fit the project in between regular classwork, as he wanted to be very thorough. “It was nice working with the clients, they were very willing to do as the notes described on my plan. They knew that I knew what I was doing, and that made a difference in the project.”
Mr. Clark also said, “We are so pleased with how great the basement looks and how functional it is becoming with its new floor.”

Students at Vermont Tech take pride in their work, and this project was no exception. As a college, we strive to provide career-focused technical and applied education so that our students can make the successful transfer into the workplace and continue their life-long learning.

A pole with supported plinths  The new floor


Derek's Original design with notes.