Spotlight Projects

  • Summer Construction Education Program

    Jul 27, 2015

    Summer Construction Education Program

    Most students attend summer school only if they have to, but in the case of students involved with the Summer Construction Education Program, the students want to.

    Run by the Education Employment System #330, located at Parkland College, the Summer Construction Education Program is a five-week program which aims to engage students in developing career interests and skills related to the construction industry. The participants, who come from area high schools, have to apply to be part of the five-week course, including getting recommendations. The class is taught by two area high school teachers, but students also learn about career opportunities in construction from those who work in it – Parkland College staff, local unions, and F&S employees when they spend a day at the Physical Plant Services Building.

    Seventeen students from Champaign-Urbana high schools and surrounding high school, visited PPSB in June. This was the third consecutive year students have toured PPSB.

    “Visiting PPSB is kind of a one-stop shop,” said Ken Buenting, F&S assistant superintendent of Building Maintenance, who coordinated the visit. “With 29 Crafts and Trades, F&S has more shops under one roof than anywhere else in town.”

    The students began their day with construction presentations. The remainder of their time was spent visiting with the Elevator shop, the Machine shop, the Sheet Metal shop, the Insulation shop, the Sign shop and the Mill. Employees explained how they got started in their jobs, what training it took, the skills needed for the trade, and what one could expect to make in the trade.

    “College isn’t for everyone, and this program shows the students about the opportunities for hands-on work,” Buenting said. “Some of them were surprised to hear the salaries and that you can make a good living in these careers.”
  • Mills builds custom podium

    Jun 18, 2015

    Mill ISFI PodiumLong-time fireman and Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) instructor John Leonard passed away in January after a battle with cancer, and his co-workers at IFSI wanted to do something to memorialize him. They just didn’t know what.

    Burke and other IFSI staff ultimately decided to have a classroom podium made to honor Leonard, and that’s when they turned to the F&S Mill Shop.

    “They didn’t really know what they wanted. They had all kinds of ideas,” said Mill Foreman Andy Burnette, who built the podium with millworker Brad Ward. “They wanted to memorialize him so that when anyone walked in the room, they would see the podium and think of him.”

    The lectern is adorned with Leonard’s firefighting equipment and tools, including his helmet, flashlight, radio, ax, and badge. Its diamond metal base, reminiscent of a fire truck, was created by the Sheet Metal Shop, and the Paint Shop provided a coat of clear lacquer for the podium.

     “We’ve built lots of podiums all over campus, but never something as unique as this, especially when you know it’s to honor one guy,” Burnett said.

    For his part, Burke said he couldn’t be happier with the way the podium turned out.

    “It’s tremendous,” he said “Those guys are such professionals. There were people over here who had tears in their eyes when they saw how well they made the podium. They are true craftsmen and did a great job.”

  • Krannert Art Museum (KAM)

    Feb 16, 2015

    When the Krannert Art Museum (KAM) ran into a problem with the display for its upcoming exhibit, it didn’t have time to call the architects responsible for the show. Walter Wilson, KAM’s design and installation specialist, had three days before the exhibit opened for the first-time ever, so he called F&S.

    KAMThe night of Monday, Jan. 26, he and Mill Shop Foreman Andy Burnett exchanged initial e-mails, and Tuesday morning Wilson explained the problem and what he needed. Several of the pieces in the exhibit were supposed to be placed on melamine boards, but the boards that came as part of the show couldn’t handle the weight and buckled. Wilson sent Burnett the measurements, and the Mill shop, using sturdier, medium density fibre board, was able to get 14 new boards sized, cut, over to the Paint shop, and back to KAM by Wednesday morning, about 24 hours before the exhibit, MetaModern, opened.

    Not only were the Mill and Paint Shops able to get the work done in 24 hours, they completed it perfectly, which, in Wilson’s experience, was particularly impressive on such short notice.

    KAM is the first stop on a six-city MetaModern  tour, so F&S’ work is not only being utilized in Champaign, but will be seen throughout the country when the exhibit travels to Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and California.