In early October, Colorado’s construction industry professionals hosted more than 1,700 high school students and teachers at the 7th annual Colorado Construction Career Days events at the Adams County Fair Grounds.

“The first few years we had to do a lot of work to get high schools signed up for this event,” says Cathy Rock, construction technology dept. chair at Red Rocks Community College and a Career Days Committee member. “This year, I sent one e-mail reminder out to [one school district] and immediately about 400 students were signed up.”

The student and educator participants learned about the industry through hands-on activities about careers in architecture, engineering and the energy sector. More than 600 industry volunteers assisted students in operating various pieces of heavy equipment. In one of the equipment simulations, students used a backhoe to place a tennis ball in a basket. In another, they used equipment to move a six-ft section of pipe. Students also operated backhoes and mini-excavators. Volunteers instructed the students on the operation of material high-lifts, loaders, snowplows and rollers.

“The word is out to the students and the schools that this is a beneficial event,” says Michael Gifford, executive director of the Associated General Contractors of Colorado, who says the planning committee anticipated 1,200 students at the Denver event.

This year’s volunteers came from local construction and engineering companies; unions, trade associations, community colleges, construction materials and equipment suppliers. Adams County and city, state and federal transportation agencies provided firsthand knowledge to students and their teachers about careers in the industry.

“We would love to see more support from the industry next year,” adds Rock, who says that planning for the 8th annual Construction Career Days has already begun.