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Midvale Journal

Entrada students learn from professional engineers, surveyors

May 11, 2020 11:56AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama|[email protected]

Thirty-one-year-old Alexandra Bonillo had earned her engineering degree and computer-aided drafting certificate from Santiago Mariño Polytechnic University Institute in Venezuela, but when she sought political asylum in the United States last spring, she learned she needed to re-validate them so she reached out to Entrada High School.

“I want to get into the field in the United States and make connections through this class,” she said, with the assistance of translator and Entrada administrative assistant Jose Rincon. “I’d like to pursue designing homes, including work as an interior designer, and get my realty license to sell houses.”

The course is offered through a partnership between Focus Engineering & Surveying and Entrada, Canyons School District’s high school that offers adults the educational opportunities to earn a high school diploma, prepare to take the GED test or improve educational skills like math, reading and writing. The partnership is one of several offered through Entrada, where local businesses offer instruction in their field so adult learners can get hands-on experience while learning about the career.

For Bonillo, it has been helpful in practicing her English while interacting with professionals.

“I’m learning more commands, short-cuts I didn’t know,” she said about the AutoCAD program.

Bonillo not only left her homeland, but also her parents and sister. She came with friends and while in Utah, has worked in both a pizzeria and doing housekeeping.

 “I’m wanting a better life, and with this class, I’m learning from professionals,” she said.

The six-week AutoCAD introductory course is taught by Jason Barker, vertical engineering department manager, and Travis Benson, site civil design department manager. 

“At the end of the course, they will be able to sit at the computer and have a basic idea how to navigate AutoCAD,” Benson said. “To be proficient, it takes years. There’s lots of layers and new ways to do it. There’s thousands of commands, easily.”

In early March, they were reviewing with five students how to block or group things together and copy before moving on to allow them to select a design and create it on the program. With five students, the instructors were able to provide students a lot of individual training. 

That was something that appealed to Andrea Orozoo, who along with Jose Guerrero, decided to take the class at Bonillo’s urging.

“I’m learning new depths and commands from the teachers who are professionals,” said Orozoo, who attended Clearfield High after moving from Ecuador. “I’d like to be an architect” and design smart houses where lights, fans, televisions and other items could be controlled by voice or a cell phone.

Guerrero said that his family designed and created clothing in Ecuador before moving to Utah. Now he paints houses.

“My dream is for better education, a better job so I took the Entrada course,” Guerrero said. “It’s been so much fun. I can see how AutoCAD could help create models for clothing. I’m now painting houses and this has helped me so I can understand the blueprints much better.”

CAD replaced drafting tables, protractors and straight-edges, during a 20-year evolution in the 1980s and 1990s, Benson said. Barker added that since the initial introduction, CAD programs have become faster with more memory.

“It’s been a real benefit to reproduce drawings and just be able to edit it, instead of erase or recreate the drawing from scratch,” Barker said. “Almost every technical field uses CAD and almost anything we use – a spoon, a keyboard, a chair, a pen – is designed using CAD.”

Another benefit is to be able to use a thumb drive, iCloud, Dropbox or other methods to share drawings with clients in different locations to review them, Benson said.

These benefits and information about the career paths were shared with students, including the possibility of a paid internship with Focus after completion of the class. 

“Our hope is to find a diamond in the rough at Entrada and introduce all students to a larger skill set. It’s giving these students a confidence boost and an introduction to the field,” Benson said. “We want to inspire the students to do something. This is something we are passionate about and hope if they love this, then they’ll take a class at the community college and springboard them to a university.”

Focus also offers a 12-session introductory surveying class, which is half classwork and half, site work. The inaugural class was offered last fall where students learned from third-generation surveyor, Spencer Llewelyn, who is the survey department manager.

The course stretches from learning the history of surveying to students creating a simulated 5-lot neighborhood on Jordan High’s football field, using a drone, survey-grade GPS and a robotic total station.

“It was cool to see what they were able to do by the end of the course,” he said. “They were using GPS to survey as close to reality as possible, using construction drawings I made for utilities, curbs, gutters and sidewalks.”

Llewelyn said that while many STEM careers are being considered, some technical fields such as surveying are getting overlooked.

“We talked about the career path, what’s available in the field and schooling,” he said, noting that there are more people retiring in the field than entering it. “There’s not too many barriers to entering it and quite a big demand in the field.”

He said that to be licensed, surveyors earn either their associate’s or bachelor’s degree, then add experience to total eight years. 

The partnership with Focus was set up between the company’s general manager, Ron Paul, and Entrada’s adult education program manager Mark Mataya, in hopes to provide adult learners a way to learn about the company and learn from professionals.

The Utah State Board of Education supports this adult education learning.

“Many individuals who have the interest in a career, may not have the right education so they just give up rather than explore their interest,” said Brian Olmstead, Utah State Board of Education Adult Education and Prevention & At-Risk Programs student support coordinator. “We need to build these local partnerships, to make the connections between businesses and Entrada to meet the local demand. This is a great partnership and we want to clearly build more of them. It’s the direction we want to go.”