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Who knows what these are called?

Who’s heard of shearing?

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

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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.”

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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

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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.”

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