BSCC engineering students help with community projects

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SUMITON — Students at the Sumiton campus of Bevill State Community College are using their skills to help with two community projects in Walker County.

The college's engineering design technology students are in the process of creating blueprints for a church in Parrish and a tiny home village for veterans.

Bevill State engineering instructor Matt Bradshaw said students have been working on a blueprint for New Beginnings Church of God in Parrish. The church along Cordova-Parrish Highway was burned in September 2019, and the congregation is hoping to soon rebuild, according to pastor Bobby Shedd.

"He (Bradshaw) was so kind and generous to say that they would work on it. They have spent a lot of time developing the floor plan for our church," Shedd said. "It has just been a tragic time, but we sure appreciate the school doing what they're doing. They're helping us out a great deal by drawing up that plan for us."

Shedd said the fire destroyed half of the church and caused smoke damage to the remaining building structure. As soon as the church receives an insurance settlement, the house of worship will be rebuilt at the same location.

In the meantime, Shedd said the Town of Parrish has allowed church members to hold services in the old Parrish High School gym on Wednesday and Sunday.

Bevill State students are also working on a blueprint and 3D model of a proposed tiny home village for homeless veterans. It's a project envisioned by nonprofit Forever and Always Patriots. 

Bradshaw said the 3D model students are creating will be used by the nonprofit to market its vision for possible funding.

The tiny home village will be located in the Cordova area.

"It absolutely means everything for us," John Sahagun of Forever and Always Patriots said. "Mr. Bradshaw has certainly helped our organization have a more professional presentation."

Bradshaw said the partnership with the nonprofit also has a dual purpose. In addition to helping with plans for the village, college officials will educate veterans on the many educational programs available at Bevill State for veterans to get back on their feet.  

"It's a partnership that I hope continues for the foreseeable future," Sahagun said.

The plans for the project are ongoing, and Sahagun said the nonprofit will clear land for the village in the near future, weather permitting. 

Bradshaw said engineering students have been using the drafting software AutoCAD to create 3D models and blueprints for the projects. 

When engineering students graduate from Bevill State, they earn an associate in applied science and engineering design degree. Bradshaw said students would need to further their education if they want to be an engineer; however, students who wish to be a designer or draftsman can go straight to work after graduating from Bevill State.

In addition to community projects, the engineering students do a Mars rover project each year where they design, race and build their own rover to compete at NASA.

Bradshaw said his engineering students could have easily sharpened their skills by creating a fake project, but doing something that will impact their community has provided a greater appreciation for their work. 

"I think it's a great opportunity, not only to showcase what they're learning but to give to the community in a way that most people can't," he said. "It's special for our students."

The work completed by his students has been free of charge but is valued at thousands of dollars. 

Former Bevill State engineering students have worked on community projects in years past. Bradshaw said following the April 27, 2011 tornadoes, students designed blueprints for Habitat for Humanity houses.