Twenty-three electrical engineering students volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) of the Four States in Joplin Tuesday, Nov. 6. Their task was a to change out 300 worn plug-ins and almost 200 light switches. They also checked on the electrical system to see if everything was in good condition and working properly. These students were able to provide these services for no cost.
The participating students worked under the direction of Ed Moore, instructor in school of technology electrical department, and Clint Meyers, owner of C&M Construction in Joplin, and a PSU electrical engineer graduate. Brent Heideman, freshman in electrical technology, said the work environment was pretty laid back but that safety was still important.
“We just kind of grouped up and divided and conquered,” Heideman said.
Moore said they have a general contractor in Joplin who goes through the house and decides what need to be done.
“It’s need based, as they need things,” Moore said. “And we may just go in for like a morning to do a few little things here and there, but this project was a big project,”
Not only does this work help the RMH, but it also benefits the students by providing first-hand experience within the work field. For Gerson Bocanegra, freshman in electrical technology, it was his first time on an actual worksite.
“It’s good experience for us,” Bocanegra said. “Just like everything else, in school they teach you one way then when you’re in the real world then that’s a different story, and it was actually something beneficial for all of us.”
Heideman agreed with Bocanegra that receiving hands-on volunteer experience was useful to their field of study.
“It was kind of nice to get out of the lab and do stuff that was real life,” Heideman said. “The problems that we ran into and being able to figure them out, I think that will be beneficial in the future.”
Most of the volunteers were Moore’s students and they appreciated the real-world work experience this opportunity provided.
“They got to see what real-world was for them to do a follow up, because in the lab everything is so controlled and they learn when you open up a wall there can be surprises in it, and having to deal and cope and problem solve,” Moore said.
This is not the first time PSU students have had the opportunity to partner with the RMH provide volunteer work. The program first became involved with RMH about three years ago when they helped the house upgrade to LED lighting and become more energy efficient.
Ronald McDonald House’s mission is to be “A Home Away from Home” for families with seriously ill children and ill expectant mothers. They host 150 to 200 families per year, providing them with bedrooms, a kitchen, and living spaces in a comfortable, secure, home-like atmosphere while their children receive medical treatments at nearby health care facilities.
“Well, overall it was a good experience,” Bocanegra said. “I enjoyed it. It was good working with the instructor and the contractor over there. Most of the concepts we learn here we apply them over there and that’s something good.”