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COS House and Canoe Construction Projects

Joe Mendoza

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20180206_144632.jpgIMG_0903.jpgConstruction classes at the Visalia campus at COS have students getting involved in projects such as building a modular house and a canoe.

The house is 900 sq. ft. in scale, modular (can be taken apart for relocation and reassembly), and has been under construction since last semester, according to John Rector, an instructor of construction courses at COS.

Students are the primary participants on the projects, and experience levels vary from person to person.

“I’ve been at COS since the start of this school year, and I started working on the house about the middle of last semester,” said Joseph, a student in Rector’s construction class.

Most students help out on both projects in construction.

“I would say I started helping with the house two weeks after the spring semester started, I helped out with a tiny house last semester as well,” Lorrayne Silva said. “The canoe takes a lot more time and a lot more detail, I would say it’s twice as hard as the house.”

Mr. Rector has been teaching construction courses at COS since 1997, and he offered the most insight on purpose, dimensions, and what was to be done with the house upon its completion.20180206_144546.jpg

“The house is modeled after something called Solar Decathlon, which is a competition mainly between four year schools. The competition is sponsored by the Department of Energy and has to do with energy efficiency, and design efficiency. We are not in the competition but we modeled the house after the competition,” Rector said.

Universities such as Stanford and Berkeley participate in the Solar Decathlon, and the winner of the competition gets a cash prize. An eventual goal of the COS Construction program is to find funding to be able to compete in Solar Decathlon.

Ultimately, plans for the house project are to sell it upon its completion.

The house, however, is not the only project in progress.

“There’s still a canoe from last year in the back of the shop,” Joseph said.

The canoe being built in the Construction classroom will take part in a competition near Sacramento, in which different community colleges race their motorized canoes.

This competition is called the Solar Regatta. IMG_0887.jpg

“The canoes are powered by two solar panels, provided by the people who sponsor the competition. There are 17 colleges participating this year, and it is on May 5th near Sacramento,” Rector said.

The Solar Regatta competition includes three different races, involving a race powered by solar panels, and a race involving a battery powered motor.

“We won some races last year. We’re going to build the best canoe we can build and see if we can do better this year,” Rector said.

Behind the house and canoe projects is a great amount of labor that goes into the final products. Some people’s motivations to help out can be very different from others.

“I like learning, and knowing what to do and how to build a house, all the parts that go into it and everything,” Silva said.

For some students, just passing the course is enough entirely.

“We just get graded, we don’t get paid or anything. Its cool,” Joseph said.

For some people, it is even deeper than that though.

“I mean it’s always nice to step back and see the finished product and see what you’ve done. It’s also nice to take a bunch of students who don’t know what a hammer is and teach them how to build houses. We actually have had a few people from COS who were here and are contractors now,” Rector said.

The house project is expected to be finished by the end of the semester and the canoe will be raced at Rancho Seco on May 5th.

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COS House and Canoe Construction Projects