Who knows what these are called?

Who’s heard of shearing?

Why do you think there’s a notch in the foundation wall?


As part of Markel’s ongoing commitment to give back to the community and share our expertise with America’s future builders, twenty-eight sophomore, junior and senior engineering students and their teacher, Brian Thomas, from Centaurus High School visited North End in Louisville this week. The group was on-site to see firsthand what they’d been talking about in class. Rob King, Markel’s Construction Supervisor at North End, set the stage with a short pep talk about his industry—one of the largest in the world.

“We need architects, engineers, framers, software developers, trades-people, material manufacturers, suppliers—it’s a huge industry that employs a lot of people. And we need more people than we’ve got. There’s opportunity here.”

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King reaches into the bed of his truck and pulls out hard hats, one for everyone. “Safety first. Inside, outside, this hard hat stays on. I step out of my truck in the morning, put this hat on and wear it all day. All you need to do is walk into a crossbeam without it and you won’t forget.”


The students divide themselves into four groups and head in separate directions with their instructors, each an expert in different phases of the homebuilding process:

  • Brian (teacher) — foundation
  • Chris (structural engineer) — rough framing
  • Jonathan (structural engineer) — framed with mechanicals
  • Rob (construction supervisor) — drywall


Each scenario brings new vocabulary: footings and anchor bolts, drain tile and water collection, trusses, crossbeams, seams, mesh and fire rock. “Hey cool,” comments one young man, spotting a dry-waller on stilts.

“Yeah,” says King. “Learn his job and you can be a circus performer on weekends.”