Tom Purcell, superintendent for Adolfson & Peterson Construction, tells a group of Colorado Mountain College engineering students how a geoexchange field that will heat and cool the Alpine Campus’ new academic facility was installed.

Photo by Scott Franz

Tom Purcell, superintendent for Adolfson & Peterson Construction, tells a group of Colorado Mountain College engineering students how a geoexchange field that will heat and cool the Alpine Campus’ new academic facility was installed.

CMC engineering students tour Alpine Campus' new facility

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CMC construction tour

Colorado Mountain College engineering students get an intimate look at Alpine Campus’ new academic facility.

— Concrete and rebar are starting to go up quickly along the foundation of the Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus’ new 60,0000-square-foot academic facility, and CMC engineering professor Stephen Craig is making sure his students get an intimate look at every major development.

On Monday, Craig and 11 of his students put on hard hats and safety vests and were led on an extensive tour of the construction project that will next year become the hub of the campus.

Tom Purcell, superintendent at Adolfson & Peterson Construction, which is overseeing the project, walked students through what will become the interior of their new building.

Purcell said crews will start pouring pavement for the building’s parking lot today, and will begin installing steel on the building in early November.

Before the tour, Purcell showed students the thick book of schematic drawings his construction crews often consult, and told the class that in the construction industry, being off by even the slightest measurement can significantly stall a project.

“If you miss this approach by a quarter of an inch, you have to tear it apart and start over,” Purcell said as he pointed to a curved portion of the structure.

While the building’s foundation was easily visible at the site, some students were more impressed by what had already been installed hundreds of feet below the dirt on which they were standing.

“I really wanted to hear more about the geoexchange field,” student Patrick Maguire said. “I was a construction worker before I came to this school … but I have never seen that type of work being done at a site before.”

The geoexchange field, which will heat and cool the new facility by harnessing energy from temperature differentials in the soil, was completed this month after construction crews finished drilling 56 holes that each reached a depth of at least 500 feet.

Craig said in a small town like Steamboat, CMC’s new academic facility will likely be the most substantial construction site his students will be able to tour before they enter the workforce. He hopes students will be able to tour the site at least once every three weeks.

“The engineering students spend a lot of time in the classroom going over calculus and physics,” he said. “So it’s great to get out there and see something being applied. That’s something missing in a lot of these engineering classes. You’re not on site, and you don’t get to see the big picture.”

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