Construction Technology student praises faculty
“I tell everyone that RCC has a phenomenal program for anyone interested in CAD, with absolutely wonderful instructors,” says Kelly Gustafson, who earned a certificate from RCC’s Construction Technology program. “The instructors are all very caring and genuine and passionate about what they do,” she continued. “They are there because they want to help students succeed and are always available. They make sure every student gets what they need as much as possible.”
Gustafson especially praised Ralph Henderson, head of the RCC Construction Technology Department. “Ralph is very good at tailoring courses to meet individual needs and goals,” she said. “ He and all the other instructors have worked in the field and done what they are teaching.”
Henderson, the department head, clearly believes his role in helping students succeed does not end at graduation. He connects grads with employers and helps them build resume writing and interviewing skills.
Henderson, who joined the RCC faculty in 1990, earned an Associate of Arts transfer degree from Rogue. He’s worked as a certified building inspector, civil engineering technician, volunteer firefighter, and owned a construction company doing residential, commercial and public works projects.
Kelly Gustafson combined her education, longtime interests, and life experiences to create a livelihood she truly enjoys—landscape design. “I knew I wanted to do something that involved botany,” she said. “And I’m very interested in sustainable building and design practices.”
She earned an Architectural Computer-Aided Drafting one-year certificate at Rogue and parlayed her RCC training and life experience into a job as designer and drafter for Laurie Sager & Associates, a landscape architecture firm in Ashland. “The RCC certificate helped me get my foot in the door, and my training has really been a good foundation,” she noted.
Gustafson, who already had an associate’s degree in forestry and a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology, found herself working as a housepainter in southern Oregon and struggling to figure out what she wanted to do next. An avid outdoors person, she decided to study architectural computer-aided drafting and began searching for AutoCAD learning opportunities on the West Coast. “Finally a friend told me RCC had a great program,” she said. “I was thrilled to be able to study this in my own backyard, and I was thrilled with the level of instruction I received.”
About a third of the program focuses on AutoCAD, and the remainder covers construction, building codes, and design. Gustafson received a scholarship from the Homebuilders Association and is now a member. “Getting the AutoCAD training and hands-on construction skills helped me incorporate what I’d learned at other schools and in life to get a job I love,” she said.
Landscape architecture is not just about plants — it includes ‘hardscaping’ such as patios, flagstone, decks, retaining walls, arbors, and pool houses. “I love what I do. There are challenges every day, and the learning curve is steep, but it’s really, really fun. I feel that there are a lot of good jobs to be had with the skills that can be learned in this program.”
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