NORTH ADAMS -- Students from McCann Technical School are experiencing first-hand just what is involved in building a Walmart Supercenter.
Twenty-three metal fabrication students toured the 23.5-acre site off the Curran Highway on Thursday afternoon, where they learned about how what they're being taught in the classroom pertains to the construction of a structure the size of three football fields.
"All the guys here have the basic skills, and if you don't have those skills, you won't last more than five minutes," Craig Harris, general superintendent for Bast Hatfield General Contractors and Construction Managers, said, as he led students around the site.
The subjects of mathematics, geometry and trigonometry are used daily at a construction site, and often times people will work out the equations in their heads, he said. It's also important to have an outstanding attitude and be punctual, he said.
With the students currently taking an OSHA (Occu pational Safety and Health Administration) 10 course, Harris stressed to them the importance of safety on any work site.
"Everybody has to look out for each other," he said.
As the group of students walked around, Harris pointed out examples of safety measures that were being taken on the site. One of those measures involved having red caps cover the tips of exposed rebar, while an area where tin roof decking was being attached to the building was blocked off with yellow
"The biggest thing with safety is having plain old common sense," he said.
It's also important to be prepared with the right equipment and proper planning, he said. He added that many specific jobs on a site can only be done by someone who has the required training to do them.
During their tour of the site, students saw roof decking installation, concrete being spread, a chiller unit being lifted by a crane to the roof of the building, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning infrastructure installation.
"We have 18 different companies here today, and we had over 120 people here yesterday. On average, we have 75 to 80 people on site, but it can be up to 150-160," Harris said.
The crew is currently ahead of schedule with the construction and plan for work to be completed in the late spring of 2013, he said.
McCann Principal Justin Kratz said carpentry and electrical students will visit the Walmart Supercenter site over the next month, as work on the project progresses into those particular trades.
"It's not every day you have a huge construction project taking place around the corner. This is an awesome opportunity for students to see first-hand what skills are used on a site of that size," he said.
In addition, it's a good opportunity for students to see what types of employment opportunities are out there for them, and it reinforces what they learn from their teachers, he said.
Junior Carly Christman, of Lanesborough, said that being at the work site was a lot different from being in shop class.
"We only get to do little projects there. This is huge," she said.
Classmate Audrey McDonald, of North Adams, wondered about the pride a person must feel working on such a
"The sense of pride you feel going to sleep at night, knowing you're working on such a big thing and then seeing it when its completed, must be amazing," she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email email@example.com.