TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — During the last eight months, 100 welding students from the Tuscaloosa Career and Technical Academy converted more than 300 feet of pipe to create a playground in the Northwood Lake community.

On Wednesday, students and workers from McAbee Construction put the final touches on a 35-foot-by-14-foot playground at the neighborhood. As part of the project, the Northwood Lake Homeowners Association donated $1,000 to TCTA’s welding program.

Mandy Thomas, a member of the homeowners board, said that previously, the neighborhood had a wooden playground that declined into dilapidation over the years and was eventually given away.

But then, Matt Freeman, a welding instructor at TCTA who also serves on the homeowners board, proposed that his students build a new playground.

“It turned into something bigger than us trying to get a new playground,” Thomas said. “It really turned into a community rallying together to create something that will last a long time.”

Freeman said the project began in March and that students were involved in designing the playground from the ground up.

“My students are using engineering to build things like this,” Freeman said. “I let my students help design this, draw it up and plan it out.”

Freeman said that through work on the playground, the students learned more about pipe welding, which is a substantial industry in the Tuscaloosa area.

“It’s no longer a blue-collar or white-collar job,” he said. “These companies want people who can build this by hand, but also be able to design this.”

Freeman said he was proud of his students for their work on the project.


Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com