Monthly Archives: December 2018

Durham Tech helps students ‘build futures’ through community-wide initiative

three faculty and two students smiling, students are holding certificates

L to R: Shahiyd Viney, Peter Wooldridge, Ben Lock, Maryah Smith-Overman, Diontae Johnson Jones

Eight Durham homes now have been shaped up due to the efforts of the pilot class of the Building Futures Program.

The 14-week program launched in September and is made possible because of the Transformation in Ten Initiative, which includes Durham Tech, the City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, StepUp Durham, and NCWorks NextGen.

Throughout the course, students have been taught construction skills at Durham Tech in order to repair a few homes in their neighborhood. Their graduation is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14.

“Our president (Dr. Bill Ingram) is fond of saying that the most important word in our title is community, and this is absolute example of what that means,” said Dr. Peter Wooldridge, Vice President of Corporate, Continuing, and Public Services Education at Durham Tech.

Building Futures was designed to help prepare local residents to enter the high-demand construction workforce. The residents targeted are ones who face obstacles to employment training.

“There is a need for construction labor and for more folks to get into construction labor to help rebuild the homes of families who need our help and support,” said Dan Sargent, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together. “We are really excited about the potential for this program.”

The homes that the pilot class repaired belong mainly to the elderly and disabled.

The first project student Diontae Johnson Jones completed was a wheelchair ramp.

“I seen how happy they were. It just made my whole body like warm, so after that I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to … put my all into (this program). So that’s what I did. I gave a 150 percent the whole entire time,” Jones said.

Graduating with Jones will be Shahiyd Viney and LaRico Steele.

The connection these students had with the homeowners wasn’t lost on Tyler Momsen-Hudson, Field Operations Manager at Rebuilding Together who worked with the students on-site.

“They make great connections with the homeowners (and) are very respectful to the owners,” he said. “The homeowners have taken to them, too. (The students) see it’s helping the homeowners, and they like that aspect to it.”

When the students came to Durham Tech, they were taught by Construction Trades Instructor Ben Lock.

Jones admits that Lock could be a tough teacher but was ultimately “fun” to work with.

“Mr. Ben told me personally that, ‘I see potential in you,’” Jones said. “When someone shows you that type of care, you can’t help but respect it.”

The students earned certifications in Carpentry I, Lead Paint Remediation, and OSHA. They also were paid $12.50 an hour and given their own hand tools.

“The whole idea of earn while you learn is becoming more prevalent,” said Alexis Franks, Project Manager with NextGen. “Employers need to be able to get skilled talent and get experienced talent, and this is the way we can kind of attack both.

If this is not a desired, long-term pathway, this was career exploration for (the students). … I’m proud of them. They’ve done really well.”

The idea for the program began through conversations exchanged between StepUp Durham and Rebuilding Together. For more than two years, the two organizations were trying to figure out how to make their general vision come to fruition.

It was when Durham Tech, along with the City of Durham and NextGen, stepped forward that the pieces fell together.

“These folks had a similar vision of how we can be better together and recognized the training needed (in this field), the career opportunity there,” said Tim Wollin, Program Director with StepUp Durham.

Durham Tech’s involvement with the program went beyond the teaching element. Maryah Smith-Overman, Director of and Instructor in the Construction Trades program at Durham Tech, helped Lock shape the curriculum and helped Wooldridge and representatives from the other Transformation in Ten Initiative partners map out the program.

“I have to say thank you to Maryah Smith-Overman and Ben Lock,” Wooldridge said. “They’ve done an amazing, wonderful job with the program, and, of course, StepUp, Rebuilding Together, and NextGen have been a pleasure to work with.”

StepUp and NextGen have supported the students by prepping them for interviews, helping build their resumes, and introducing them to potential employers.

On Dec. 6, representatives from each of the program’s partners gathered at one of the home sites to commemorate the conclusion of the first pilot class.

“It is wonderful to see this,” said Steve Schewel, Durham Mayor, at the event. “I want to congratulate you all (the students). I know it is not easy learning new skills, not just the technical skills, but the professional skills. … I know you are going to do great things, and we are going to be counting on you to do great things.”

Schewel presented the students who were in attendance with certificates of participation.

Recruitment for fall 2019 will begin in the spring. For more information, contact Wollin at

Durham Chamber CEO, president joins Durham Tech board

Geoff Durham

Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO Geoff Durham has been appointed to the Durham Tech Board of Trustees.

Durham was appointed by the Durham County Board of Commissioners in October and will be sworn in on Dec. 4. He will replace former board member Darcel Dillard who resigned earlier this year.

“For nearly 60 years, Durham Tech has been providing high-quality, affordable education programs to students that support long-term economic growth and a work-ready community. I am honored to serve an organization with a track record of improving workforce development and preparing citizens for long-term success,” Durham said.

Durham has been with the Chamber since 2016. Prior, he served as the President/CEO of the economic development organization, Downtown Durham, Inc. While at Downtown Durham, downtown experienced tremendous investment and growth across industry sectors. Geoff facilitated the development of new office, laboratory, and co-working spaces which provided new opportunities for existing businesses to expand and new businesses to relocate to Durham.

Geoff has 20 years of economic development experience. Prior to coming to Durham, Geoff served as the Director of Economic Development in Fairfax, Va., and worked for Montgomery County, Md., as the Urban District Manager of Downtown Silver Spring.

Durham graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., and earned professional certification in economic development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and in commercial finance from the Council of Development Finance Agencies.

“Geoff will bring a unique and appreciated perspective to the Board of Trustees. We believe his intricate knowledge of the community will help Durham Tech better serve our residents, and I look forward to working with him to continue supporting the College’s students, faculty, and staff,” said Dr. Bill Ingram, President of Durham Tech.

Durham’s term on the board will end June 30, 2020.

The Durham Tech Board of Trustees consists of 14 voting members and governs Durham Tech. Members are appointed by the North Carolina Governor, Durham County Board of Commissioners, Durham Public Schools Board of Education, and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The Trustees serve four-year terms and set local policy for the College. A representative of the Durham Tech Student Government Association serves as a non-voting trustee.

Durham Tech takes first place in engineering competition for second consecutive semester

L to R – Muffy Vestal, Michael Gatlin, Claire Cronin, Joseph Turner, Ian Leonard, Joshua Viau

The Durham Technical Community College team placed first in the Rube Goldberg Engineering 150 Competition on Saturday.

More than 80 teams, including five from Durham Tech, competed for the top spot and a $700 cash prize. The competition was hosted by Wake Technical Community College.

Similar to the popular game of Mouse Trap, a Rube Goldberg machine is a complex contraption in which a series of devices perform simple tasks linked together to produce a domino effect. The competition required students to create machines that operate within a timeframe of 30 seconds and two minutes, with an end goal of popping a balloon.

“This was a great opportunity for us,” said Joseph Turner, member of Durham Tech Team Double Stack. “It was cool to get involved in the process of design and see what works and what doesn’t work. It was also an opportunity to practice soft skills like delegating tasks and making deadlines.”

The team created an alien-themed project from scratch that used rolling balls, gears, pulleys, and a rolling toy car to lift cutouts of the five team members into a spaceship.

Two Durham Tech teams tied for first place at the competition last semester.

“We knew Durham Tech did really well last time, so there was some definite pressure,” said Claire Cronin, another Durham Tech team member. “We tried our best not to think about it because we didn’t want to stress ourselves out.”

The team was under the supervision of Muffy Vestal, the new Engineering Coordinator at Durham Tech, who teaches her students how to think outside the box.

“If they don’t come away knowing everything, I want them to know how to find what they are looking for, and I want them to be able to solve problems on their own,” Vestal said. “I think this competition is a great opportunity for students because it really cements the engineering design process.”

Vestal said she was especially impressed with how well the team worked together to develop their project.

“I saw them struggle incorporating their ideas, but they overcame it,” Vestal said. “They stumbled but got up and encouraged each other. Not just on their own team, but team to team. We’re really building a culture of engineering students.”

Durham Tech will compete to defend their title at the next competition in April 2019.

Let’s celebrate December anniversaries and birthdays!

December Anniversaries (Years)
Christine Kelly-Kleese (25); Randy Egsegian (25); Tom Murphy (18); Glenda Morris (11); Travis Brown (9); Andy Kleitsch (7); Anita Moore (5); Dawn Tevepaugh (4); Lori Heiger (3); Tracy Johnson (2); Patronia Marshall (1)

December Birthdays (Day)
Dwight Williams (4); Delbroah Jones (4); Veronica Lee (7); Richard Lawrence (7); Brian Stevenson (10); Carolyn Henderson (11); Erik Townsend (11); Gloria Gay (12); Ingrid Charles (16); Rasha Dumarieh (18); Craig Smith (18); Andrea Thomas (20); Alfreda Gregory (20); Mary Moore (20); Toni Brown (20); Cynthia Hill (20); Thomas Beveridge (21); James Weeks (21); Barbara Pinter (22); Paula Wilder (24); Maria Steele (24); Candace Nolan (29); Erin Popov (29); Haji Dove (29); Janemarie Baker (30)