CNS faculty Dr. Paul J. Wolff III (center) shown here during one of his interactive learning activities as part of the BCT Immersion Event for Digital Ready students. Prospective students learned about building science concepts and technologies such as infrared cameras, air quality testing devices, power meters, and met with current students to learn about coursework, internships and career paths.

On December 1, 2021 BCT faculty and students hosted Digital Ready (DR), a Boston-based non-profit that provides talented, young Black and Latinx students from Boston Public Schools a no-cost, head-start to a STEM degree from UMass. The DR cohort of 27 students participated in a unique peer-to-peer learning exchange program developed by CSN faculty Dr. Paul J. Wolff III and students in the new communication course required for all BCT majors (Communicating Building Science and Sustainability).

The Immersion Event featured live presentations, hands-on demonstrations, building/lab tours and one-on-one time with current BCT students. The event began with ice-breaker activities and was followed by a series of presentations featuring coursework, extra-curricular activities, internships and a Q&A discussion about what it is like to live, learn and work at the UMass Amherst campus. The Immersion Event culminated with lunch at the award-winning UMass Dining Halls for all participants.

The Digital Ready Cohort enjoyed live skits, informational giveaways and interactive presentations of student work such as a proposed shipping container dwelling (Sophie Kramer ’21), a new sustainability-themed podcast (created by Peter Coolidge ’22), and stories of student success in a commercial construction competition sponsored by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC). Jocey Krooks (’23) shared the story of her team’s third-place award in the competition; a first for UMass, under the direction of BCT faculty sponsor Dr. Fernando Romero (an event sponsored by Consigli Construction, Whiting Turner and Weeks Marine).

BCT Major Hiram Tatis coordinated a series of ice-breaker activities at the BCT Immersion Event. Prospective students learned about different career paths and student life at UMass. Photo by PJ Wolff III.

The immersion theme continued with a tour and hands-on activities in the Design Building and at other high-performance buildings across the campus. For example, Evan James (Olver Design Building Shop Manager) led a tour of the Wood Mechanics Lab and demonstrated the highly specialized 3D printing and laser-cutting equipment. Laser-cut prizes (pencil/paper trays), were distributed to participants who answered technical questions related to the tour content. At the concluding remarks for the event Professor Wolff explained, “It is inspiring to see so many people interested in ‘learning by doing,’ and if that is the college experience that you seek, then you have come to the right place……always remember to dream big and think with your hands!”

For more information about this event, contact CNS faculty sponsor, Dr. Paul J. Wolff III.