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College of Engineering students build skills through community service

Mizzou Engineering student ambassador Tiffany Durham works on making the Imani Mission Center’s new porch fit. Photo by Marty Walker

A Columbia service project recently brought home to several Mizzou Engineering students what it means to be in society’s “problem–solving” field.

Ten engineering student ambassadors built a wooden porch this spring for the Imani Mission Center, a not–for–profit organization at 7 E. Ash St. that provides training and activities for low–income families. The engineering group’s ability to solve construction problems defined—and proved a key source of satisfaction with—the project, said Ryan Goetz, the ambassadors’ former co–chair who helped build the porch.

“There were so many problems that came up that we were able to solve,” Goetz said. “Definitely we felt good after it was completed.”

Fueled by a $200 donation from University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Director Mary Paulsell and another $330 contribution from group adviser Marty Walker, the student ambassadors built the new porch on site in April and finished its stair railing in mid–May. The old porch at the Imani center’s local headquarters had been dangerously unstable for some time, but the organization simply lacked the resources to repair it, said Judy Hubbard, the center’s executive director.

Building the porch provided hands–on training in both construction techniques and improvisation, said student ambassador Tiffany Durham, a senior in industrial engineering. As they built the porch, the students forged a sense of teamwork and pride and buttressed worthy values, she said.

“I think it is important for the Mizzou Engineering Ambassadors to initiate projects like this one because it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that caring is still very much an important part of our society,” Durham said.

While the students appreciated the opportunity to apply their problem–solving training, Hubbard was glad to have them serving as role models for the youngsters who saw them working at the Imani center. Having seen engineering at work, some of them might consider becoming engineers, Hubbard said.

“We just feel like it’s a win–win situation for everyone,” Hubbard said. “Because our kids are a great resource.”

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