(WACO, Texas) – Leonardo Hughes, a Building Construction Technology student at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus, said he was challenged in high school when trying to keep track of terminology used in mathematics, particularly the Pythagorean theorem.
Now, as a college student, Hughes said he has put in extra work to get better at fractions.
“When you understand the math, you can understand the cuts and corners,” he said. “You are not out there just cutting. A bunch of it is calculations.”
Hughes is not alone in facing mathematics in his field of study.
TSTC offers College Algebra, Contemporary Math, Trigonometry and Technical Calculations courses for students to take, depending on their program of study. There are also development mathematics courses for students who need additional help.
The Building Construction Technology program’s instructors start every class with at least five minutes of math lessons tied to what the students will be learning that day. Instructors encourage students to try not to use calculators when figuring out problems. Students are learning about common denominators, decimals, fractions and trigonometry.
“We will never stop teaching mathematics,” said Herschel Miller, lead instructor in the Building Construction Technology program. “They will eventually get it.”
Students also have an option of one-on-one tutoring with instructors as needed.
Understanding now how mathematics is used in construction will help students as they do internships and go to work after graduation.
Steve Munoz, senior superintendent at Rogers-O’Brien Construction Co. in Waco and a graduate of the Building Construction Technology program when TSTC was called Texas State Technical Institute, said working with dimensions and fractions is done daily on work sites.
“Every day the math just burns into your head,” he said.
He added that workers need to be able to do math quickly once they are working in the field.
Munoz said he has used a calculator only once in the last two months. While he does not discourage his employees from using calculators, Munoz said he makes sure that they are using their field books to get figures right.
“It is all math, and it is so simple,” Munoz said.
TSTC students who need mathematics assistance can enter virtual open labs on TSTC’s online learning management system, Canvas, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.
Starting this fall, a mathematics lab will open in Room 119 of the Dr. Roy Dugger Center on the Waco campus. Students can sign up for lab hours when registering for their college-level mathematics corequisite courses, said Elaine Sulak, an associate provost at the Waco campus and a former mathematics instructor.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology and a certificate of completion in Building Construction – Craftsman at the Harlingen and Waco campuses. The Harlingen campus also offers an Associate of Science degree in Mathematics that can be completed online.
Registration continues for the fall semester at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu.