Iowa City Press Citizen: UI Engineering Students Help Family Build Home

Sunday, May 3, 2009

By Rachel Gallegos
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Reida Burkett values the experience she is gaining as she helps build the Habitat for Humanity house she and her three children will move in to.

"I like seeing the whole structural part of it," Burkett said. "I'm learning stuff."

On Saturday, University of Iowa Men in Engineering students joined Burkett in building and learning at the Habitat for Humanity home on Main Street in North Liberty.

"I love seeing these guys," Burkett said. "I think it's great."

Men in Engineering is a living/learning community in Burge Residence Hall. Throughout the school year, the four floors of Men in Engineering students joined together for a variety of events, such as sports competitions and a social barbecue, said resident assistant Miguel Cajipe, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering.

One of the RAs, Rohit Vuppuluri, spearheaded the idea to do a community service project to cap off the year for the learning community, Cajipe said.

Burkett said her children -- ages 12, 7 and 3 -- each will have their own bedroom and there is a room downstairs that probably will become the kids' game room.

"They're going to have a field day here," she said.

Burkett said she is looking forward to a having a home the family can call their own and decorate any way they want.

'There won't be a white wall in my house. Trust me on that one," she said.

The second shift of Men in Engineering students who volunteered for four hours in the afternoon prepared the foundation for cement stucco and cut and nailed in soffits under the eaves of the house.

"So far they've been very helpful. We're running out of work," said Jordan Jones, construction assistant with Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps. "Sometimes the volunteers are so ready to work, we're lazy in comparison."

A carpentry class from Kirkwood Community College also helped with this house, including building the porch, Jones said.

Jones said crews poured the foundation in February, building started in March and the house will probably be complete in early June.

Sudheer Cheera, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, said Saturday was the first time volunteering for this type of project.

"I thought it was a good cause," Cheera said. "It doesn't take much."