Written by Herald-News
Pictured are Kaitlyn Tapaha, David James, David Smith and Marcus Decoteau
Fort Peck Community College students participated in the National Science Foundation Sustainable Building Research and Mentoring Program with mentors from the Fort Peck Reservation, Haskell University and Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
The summer research program created four weeks of research activities for 16 American Indian students from tribal colleges and high schools and participants to conduct field and laboratory research on new, sustainable building wall materials and systems, as well as synthesize and present their findings at relevant conferences.
This year’s program began June 13 where student participants traveled to the University of Colorado - Boulder and began classroom/laboratory research activities including straw bale workshop, presentation by American Indian Science Engineering Society faculty and professionals, solar panel installations and library research initiatives.
The FPCC students returned to the Fort Peck field site, Wednesday, June 25, and began a series of field research activities, including working with tribal professional engineers. The final stage of the project included student presentations at FPCC’s GTD, Monday, July 7.
Kaitlyn Tapaha, 20, of Wolf Point, is seeking a degree in computer and web design and plans to graduate in the spring of 2016.
“I am interested in the Sustainable Building Research Project because I would like to learn more about engineering and I feel like I can contribute to this project with my current knowledge in computers. Also I feel like this would be a great experience for me and would benefit me in the future should I pursue a career in engineering. This would broaden my horizon and help me to better the Fort Peck Reservation,” Tapaha said.
David James is Assiniboine and Hunkpapa Sioux. He graduated with a 3.7 GPA in business administration and also was the student senate president and FPCC board member.
“I was selected by the school to be the American Indian College Fund student of the year for 2013-2014. I will be moving on to my bachelor’s degree at Sitting Bull College next fall to continue my education,” James said.
David Smith graduated with a certificate in welding technology and made dean’s list for fall 2011 with a 3.8 GPA. He has participated in various college courses including, completing a 10-hour occupational safety health administration course, pipefitting certification and is starting a building trades associates of applied science degree. He hopes to graduate in the fall of 2015.
Smith is very knowledgeable about various tools and equipment and has worked for Fort Peck Housing Authority during the summer of 2013 that sharpened his skills in different areas of carpentry. He loves to work with his hands and enjoy helping others in need, and believes that with the knowledge he learns from the research and mentoring program, that he will greatly help the environment, his community and himself by gaining more experience in the vocational field.
Marcus Decoteau is a current FPCC student who likes to design and build. He enjoys math and since he was young he liked to calculate situations such as the earth’s weather patterns, rotation or the forces of gravity.