A trio of Northern Michigan University construction management majors who are also Wildcat athletes led a senior capstone project to help remodel both the women's lacrosse and track and field team locker rooms. Their group completed the work quickly enough that they divided and conquered other upgrades for NMU Athletics, such as building counters for the soccer press box, installing shelving units for cubbies in the Superior Dome weight room, and relocating extra lockers to the women's swim and dive locker room in the PEIF.
“It's been really rewarding to do work that helps out other NMU teams,” said Hunter Denton of Jackson, Mich., who played on the defensive line for Wildcat football and will graduate in December. “We had a nice renovation done to our locker room not too long ago, so it's been great to make improvements to some of the other areas we've passed by in the Superior Dome every day.”
“I'm pretty sure this is one of the first senior group projects that has focused on NMU Athletics,” added Denton's teammate Kyle Sahr of Lapeer, Mich., who played fullback and tight end. “Hopefully [Athletic Director] Rick Comley and the coaches think we did a quality job and want to keep bringing more construction management seniors back for other work in the future.”
The students were presented with four potential senior projects and ranked them according to personal preference, with the locker room remodels emerging as the top pick. For that initial project, they partnered with Closner Construction of Marquette and NMU Facilities.
“We didn't really know at the start of the project exactly what our role would be, but Closner instructed us about everything we were going to do and how long it was going to take,” said Luke Pettinger of Marine City, Mich., a Wildcat swimmer who competes in the 200 Individual Medley and both the 200 and 100 butterfly. “They also gave us tips on what to do before you start a project and issues to look out for. They've really been helpful with questions and scheduling issues. It's been a real treat working with them.”
The lacrosse area was formerly split into two sections with an E configuration of lockers. The team wanted to shift to an open concept with a U setup instead, so the project group removed the middle row of lockers. Members also replaced shelving that had broken out and installed cleats on the new shelving for added support and durability.
The track and field team has a larger roster, so 10 lockers were added to that locker room. The overall remodel also included painting and carpeting.
“It's really been an awesome experience, getting to work with a group of guys and seeing our own project through,” said Denton. “I think it's given us a glimpse of what our lives are going to be like after graduation when we're working in the industry. The professors are there to help us, but only if we need it. They share real-life experiences that might be beneficial to us in situations down the road, and we get to know them well because of the small, close-knit nature of the program.”
“The professors all have experience working in the field, which is a huge help,” added Sahr. “At first it seems like you aren't going to know much going into a career, but then by your senior year you realize how well they help prepare us for what the industry is going to entail. They've done a tremendous job.”
Others seniors in the project group were Brett Blackburn, Trent Kantola and Tony Mack. Pettinger describes the construction management program at Northern as top tier.
“It's absolutely incredible,” said Pettinger. “I've worked with a bunch of other people from other universities and they told me their programs aren't as involved. We have classes in woodshop and MEP [mechanical, electrical and plumbing]. We do the pre-construction phase work of estimating, figuring out a safety plan and everything else. I mean we've got labs on top of labs. It's amazing what they teach us and how well they prepare us by breaking down every detail."
Learn more about NMU's construction management program here.