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Blockfest competition gives construction students real-world experience

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ECU construction sophomore Nathanial Mathewson levels sand that served as the base for a structure built during Blockfest.

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ECU News Services

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Construction management students recently competed in Blockfest, a design and craft competition in which seven teams of 42 students had to dry stack a structure using a selection of concrete masonry units  that were provided by Oldcastle Adams products of Goldsboro.

Before competition day, the teams created a presentation board that showed the plans and elevations of their proposed structures. On the day of the competition, teams had two hours to build the structures, which had to be approximately 48 inches tall and not exceed a maximum site size of 6 feet by 6 feet.

Once completed, industry judges reviewed the structures, which ranged from benches to grills to fire pits. The winning structure was built by Cailey Hastings, team leader, Adam Ghanayem and Andrew Dickerson.

Brett Hardy, vice president of sales for Oldcastle Adams, serves on the advisory board for the College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Construction Management. He says the competition allows the students to learn more about the CMUs they’ll encounter once in the real world.

“This is the future of our industry (the students),” said Hardy. “I think it’s important for them to understand the different material types.”

“It’s like a live lab for them to get hands-on experience,” said Amin Akhnoukh, assistant professor in construction management.

Akhnoukh said the competition is much more than building the structure. Each team had to not only supply the drawings, but also had to coordinate the purchasing and delivery of materials.

This year’s Blockfest was the third time the event has been held at ECU.

Exhibit features work of former faculty

A new exhibit at ECU features the work of faculty going back to the early days of the School of Art and Design.

The exhibit, “110 Years of Excellence: In Memoriam,” opened May 23 and includes artwork by late faculty members and university notables such as Francis Speight, Wellington Gray and Leo Jenkins.

Maria Modlin, curator of the exhibit, has assembled information and artwork from the families of more than 25 faculty artists.

The exhibit will feature information about or the work of Joe Buske, Wesley Crawley, Francis P. Daugherty, Robert Edmiston, Sara Edmiston, Ray Elmore, Tom Evans, Abdul Shakoor Farhadi, Emily Farnham, Gray, Tran Gordley, Marilyn Gordley, Art Haney, Paul Hartley, William Holley, Leon Jacobson, Jenkins, Richard Laing, Kate Lewis, Francis Neel, Betty Petteway, Edward Reep, Priscilla Roetzel, Speight, John Satterfield and Donald Sexauer.

“All the families have been very helpful in loaning us artwork,” Modlin said. “The families are very excited. This is the first time we’ve honored the artists in this manner.”

ECU’s art program — under longtime art education director Holley and school director Gray — grew quickly to the most comprehensive in the state and one of the largest on the East Coast with nationally-known, talented faculty members, said art historian Michael Duffy, who has written the forward for the exhibit booklet.

“They all had a place,” Duffy said. “There’s really a tradition here.”

The idea for the exhibit came after the deaths last year of longtime art professors Haney, who taught ceramics and served as associate dean, and Elmore, who was featured in 2015 at the Greenville Museum of Art with a retrospective of his work. Haney and Elmore died within weeks of each other. “We were all just stunned,” Modlin said.

Modlin hopes current students and visitors to the exhibit “see the past and the famous faculty and the artwork they did and the changes that have occurred in the styles of art over the past century.”

For example, Satterfield made intricate brooches and necklaces juxtaposed with fanciful coffee and server piece designs, Modlin said. “Everyone had their playful side and their serious side that they indulged,” she said.

Hartley, who painted in acrylics and oils and sometimes a combination of pastels and pencils, was known for his abstract style. But included in the exhibit is a realistic painting of his grandfather. “It’s a beautiful piece,” Modlin said. “It was very different from anything he painted.”

The exhibit, which will be on display through June 29, will kick off a two-year series spotlighting sculpture, painting, printmaking, metals, watercolor, ceramics, glass and more. A public reception will be held 5-8 p.m. June 1 in Gray Gallery.

Next year, the school will feature retired faculty members in the series to celebrate 110 years of art instruction at ECU.

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