A&M-Kingsville Architectural Engineering Students Plan New Ways to Use Jim Hogg County Buildings in Hebbronville
KINGSVILLE - May 04, 2007
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Real-world design projects inspire students, instructor
Senior Jonnae L. Hice presents her
architectural engineering work to
Jim Hogg County officials.
For the second time in two years, students of the Texas A&M University-Kingsville architectural engineering program have taken on a semester project that went beyond the classroom and into the real world.
Students of a design class taught by lecturer Jim Glusing worked with Jim Hogg County to reassign space in existing buildings in Hebbronville and bring buildings up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students presented their design ideas to county officials and citizens on Tuesday, May 1.
The county facilities assigned to the class were the Memorial Building, site of a number of city and county offices, and a former Border Patrol station. The station was donated to the county after a new station was built; it is a complex made up of three structures containing cubicles and offices. Most notably in the redesign project, the former Border Patrol station needed to be reorganized to accommodate the Department of Public Safety Major Crime Unit, four constables, justices of the peace (JPs) and a JP court, along with city and county offices.
Jim Hogg County Judge Guadalupe Canales initiated the project, seeking the expertise of his alma mater for a project that needed to happen, but on a restrictive county budget. “Jim Hogg County received much of its income from the cattle industry,” said Canales. “As that dwindled over the years, we just don’t have the capital that other counties have.” Consequently, A&M-Kingsville went on to complete the project free of charge to the county, as a community service.
“I’m sure the citizens of Jim Hogg County will appreciate what the university is doing,” said Canales.
Last year, students of the design class were assigned the task of designing a new athletics practice facility building for the university. Their efforts were presented to an athletics department representative at the end of the spring 2006 semester, who chose the design that best represented what the department wanted in a new building. That design will serve as a conceptual model for future development efforts for the project. It also is an example of the work produced by the bachelor’s level architectural engineering program in its first year of existence.
For Canales, there are a number of reasons he first went to A&M-Kingsville for help.
“I did it to demonstrate to the state what the university could do for impoverished counties like ours. Also, I knew it would give the students practical experience.”
That’s a goal echoed by Glusing. “With these two projects, we’re trying to set up a history of public involvement with this design class, rather than just mental exercises.”
Junior Analyn Nunez has been involved in both design projects. It was her athletic practice facility design that was chosen last year by the athletic department. Initially, Nunez took the architectural engineering design class as a second choice to an engineering class that wasn’t available. That unenthusiastic beginning changed 180 degrees and grew into something much more, as evidenced by Nunez choosing to take the class again this year.
“This class inspired me a lot,” she said Nunez. “It gives engineers an inside knowledge of architects. Engineers often think about just the structure, while architects focus on design. This class combines both of those elements.”
Architectural engineering has been enough of an inspiration that Nunez is considering pursuing a master’s degree in architecture in the future.
Another student in the design class, freshman Jorge Trevino, may have the most emotional involvement in this semester’s project. A native of Hebbronville, Trevino said his interest in architecture goes back to his childhood, watching his father, a builder, at work. A married father of four, Trevino served as a draft technician at the Corpus Christi branch of the firm WKMC Architects. His supervisors encouraged him to go further in his career, leading him to enter A&M-Kingsville last semester.
Before he was a student in the design class, Trevino read about civil improvements Hebbronville officials wanted to make and took the initiative to call Canales—his former high school biology teacher—to see what he could do to help. Trevino found himself working on an independent design project to revamp the Hebbronville city plaza. Shortly after that, Trevino became a part of the design class and began working on the Jim Hogg County project, too.
Trevino finds himself serving as the unofficial Hebbronville consultant in class, answering questions about the town and its structures. He also has been encouraged by Glusing to share his experience working in an architecture firm with fellow students.
Glusing has watched student-to-student sharing like Trevino’s blossom over the last two years with the design class. “Last year’s students have mentored this year’s, letting them know what to expect in constructing and presenting their work,” he noted.
An added benefit for this year’s class is having their architecture design studio fully functional this semester. After the room was arranged and constructed last year, it was filled this year with 12 donated computers from the Halliburton subsidiary KBR.
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