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Engineering students sign a beam for the Walter Fieldhouse construction site.

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Walter Fieldhouse site offers learning opportunity to OHIO engineering students


The newest building on Ohio University's Athens Campus doesn't yet have walls or a roof, but Wednesday it played classroom to more than 80 students when a group from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology toured the Walter Fieldhouse site.

As part of a collaboration between Turner Construction Company and Ohio University, the engineering students received an up close look at the facility that is rapidly rising next to Peden Stadium. OHIO students also left their mark by signing a beam that will soon complete the steel erection phase of the project.

The event began with a presentation detailing the construction process and design build strategy of the 89,000 square-foot facility that will soon be the Walter Fieldhouse.  

The group of students heard from Dave Stanton, Turner Construction project superintendent, about his background and involvement with the project. The idea of engaging engineering students came from Stanton, who said he remembers being where they are now.

"I'm happy to get the students involved here. That's what it's about," Stanton said.

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Christine Sheets said she is pleased to have Stanton as the project's superintendent.

"He has been eager to share his experiences, career path and how to get that first job with our students," Sheets said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi said this partnership is exactly what the University is about.

"We're using this moment in our history, when we're growing, to turn it into an education opportunity for our students who are here today," Lombardi said. "They may not have the chance to utilize these facilities but they can experience them today through opportunities like this. This is what we should be doing with every component of the way our University runs in my mind. It couldn't be better. I'm thrilled."

Stanton said he has interacted with OHIO engineering students before and has been impressed.

"We have a team of OHIO engineering alumni come down here every year (for the career fair) and this is the first time we've been able to build at the University," Stanton explained.

The afternoon event also included a hard-hat tour of the site, which Department Chair of Civil Engineering Deb McAvoy said enabled students to make real-life connections to what they're learning in the classroom.

"It's a fabulous opportunity. This puts them right where the action is, gets them re-energized in their course work and it gives them a little more insight into the profession," McAvoy said.

Senior civil engineering major Tyler Brothers said he appreciates the learning opportunity Turner has provided him and classmates.

"I really like Turner and I really like what they're doing. I think it's an awesome opportunity to see it all up close," Brothers said.

The Walter Fieldhouse construction learning lab is an opportunity for inspiration that OHIO educators and leaders hope to repeat as Phase 1 of the University's Housing Development Plan continues to develop across the campus in the coming months.