Student volunteers get a charge from Habitat work

Instead of a hammer and nails, these Habitat for Humanity volunteers are picking up junction boxes and wire strippers.

Student volunteers from Mississippi State University's chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers put in their first work day recently at the Hilliard Street site of one of five Habitat houses currently under construction in Starkville.

Their mission: roughing in electrical wiring and circuits for the three-bedroom home being built for Cassandra Logan and her family.

"The affiliate needed help getting electrical work done," explained electrical engineering professor Roger King, adviser to the group. "It seemed logical to ask electrical engineers to provide assistance."

King distributed a message to students by electronic mail, and more than 15 signed up for the Saturday work day. "Several had worked with Habitat before and knew the value of the work being done in the community," King said.

"It's something we can do to help others," said Jeff Smith, an electrical engineering senior from Long Beach. "It's one way to give back something that we've learned."

IEEE student chapter president Kristen Roberts of Huntsville, Ala., said that the volunteers nearly finished the preliminary wiring. "We wanted to make sure all of the wiring met the building code," she explained. Once the drywall is put up, students will continue their wiring efforts, she said.

Local Habitat organizers say they were pleased with the student help.

"Students have helped save expenses by volunteering their skills," said volunteer coordinator Barbara Grzybowski. "We have a wonderful relationship with Mississippi State, and it's wonderful to see the results of students helping others help themselves."

King said students benefit from involvement with the community and from learning practical skills. "They'll now be able to wire a house," he noted. "It's hands-on experience that makes a difference for someone else."

Fri, 12/06/1996 - 06:00