New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI) and Tremco have partnered to introduce the Rising Stars program to students in the NCCTI Building Trades Specialist program. Rising Stars aims to introduce students to a variety of aspects of the construction industry and connect them to job opportunities.
David Hutchinson came up with the concept for Rising Stars. He works for Tremco in Deep Energy Retrofit Development, which means his division works to retrofit existing buildings by putting new panels on existing structures and upgrading HVAC systems while limiting tenant disruption. The ultimate goal is to reduce carbon and energy consumption and the focus is primarily on affordable housing in the Northeast. His work brought about the idea for Rising Stars.
“I wanted to do something as an outreach and be more engaged in the communities that we operate in,” Hutchinson said.
He pitched his idea to the president of Tremco in the summer of 2020 and received support. After many conversations internally and externally, Hutchinson was able to launch Rising Stars in March 2022 under the umbrella of Tremco.
NCCTI is one of three educational institutions to host the Rising Stars program for its inaugural cohort. The others are in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Boston, Mass.
“The program at its core is trying to expand the views and the opportunities that are present in the construction industry,” Hutchinson said. “We start with design and have an architect come in and really talk about what goes into sustainable green design or future design of projects and then also the career paths. So it always is an educational format but also almost kind of a career day at the same time.”
Guest speakers, who are volunteers Hutchinson has connected with during his career, visit once per week and share their experiences with students. In addition to Tremco, one of the larger groups involved is Turner Construction.
“We start very high level with design and we work all the way through to the trades where it concludes with trade day where we have people from the union hall and job opportunities presented,” Hutchinson said. “So for the participants that show the ability or have the want to, there is an opportunity to actually get employed by some of the speakers.”
That type of access is extremely valuable for students looking to launch their careers.
“We are proud to be a strategic partner with Tremco and this program is an excellent opportunity for our Building Trades students to meet industry experts across trades/professions while undertaking their studies at NCCTI,” said New Community Chief Operating Officer Fred Hunter.
NCCTI Director Dr. Sylvia McCray said Rising Stars got students excited about building trades and the possible career paths available to them.
“The program not only helps students to understand the business but also develops that connection and building in their creativity of thinking outside the box, breaking that stereotype that it’s just one job or one type of job,” she said.
The Building Trades class had more females than males, challenging another stereotype.
“Allowing women to see themselves in nontraditional roles and that they’re able to build career paths and make a substantial amount of money taking care of themselves and their families, that was really important to me,” McCray said.
The students were engaged and had positive experiences.
“I was impressed with the program because it exposed us to new technologies and new things that are happening in the construction industry,” said Chinedu Arisa. “For me, it changed my perspective about construction.”
Nicole Wilson raved about the program, saying it was very informative, had a hands-on component and brought in “incredible” speakers. She said she learned a lot and the program inspired her to apply for a job at Tremco. She landed an interview and is now waiting for her start date.
“Rising Stars helped me to a better future,” she said.
NCCTI Building Trades Instructor Yusto Awich saw his students benefit from Rising Stars.
“The program is well structured and coordinated well,” he said. “The professionals who came were prepared and engaged the students well.”
McCray and Hutchinson plan to bring the Rising Stars program back to NCCTI in the fall. Hutchinson’s goal is to have two sessions per year, one in the fall and one in the spring. He has been asked to launch additional sites in other geographic locations, including Syracuse, N.Y., Orlando, Fl. and areas of Texas.
McCray is happy that NCCTI got to be one of the first institutions to expose students to the program.
“I’m really glad that we were able to show students that there’s more out there. And to whet that curiosity,” she said.