A decade ago, Richard Summers was a remodeling contractor, a job he loved for the challenges it presented. But despite being happy with his work, he knew he wanted to further his education.
In 2010, Richard decided to go back to school and, since he’d served five years in the Navy, he used his veteran’s GI Bill® to enroll in SPSCC’s Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Technology (AEC) program, part of the Information Technology Pathway.
Although he learned a lot during his time in the program, Richard eventually ran out of GI money before he could complete his studies and had no choice but to take a break—one that ended up being a lot longer than he’d planned. After an accident left him in a wheelchair, Richard was no longer able to do the remodeling work he enjoyed. He knew he needed to shift his focus back to his education if he wanted to continue his career in the construction field.
His veteran status allowed him to get rehabilitation from his accident and it also helped him get more money to finish his degree program. He came back to the AEC program in 2019 and graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Technology in June 2020.
“I had a strong construction background, but the program built on those skills and helped me find a job,” Richard said.
Richard’s previous job experience provided him with an advantage as a student, something instructors in the program say can often lead to more consistent understanding.
"Having hands on experience in construction really aides a student in our program,” said Adam Waters, AEC Technology faculty. “Having a visual and physical reference to building a home makes drawing it on a computer much easier to understand."
Within a couple of months of graduating, Richard was hired as a drafter at LJB Designs in Olympia.
His work in drafting programs Revit and CAD has renewed a spark in Richard because he sees a lot of parallels between drafting and remodeling work.
“I like the artistic aspect of being able to work with my hands,” Richard said. “Every day is a little different. Drafting allows me to use my previous construction knowledge and technical skills learned through the AEC program to help people design their dreams.”