Computer Aided Drafting Students Take Top Prizes in Statewide Contest to Transform Grain Silos into Rental Properties 

Elgin resident Gary Neighbors is currently turning two grain silos into short-term rental properties.

Story provided by Meridian Technology Center

Nothing teaches like experience.  

And thanks to work-based learning opportunities, students in Meridian’s Computer Aided Drafting program have had multiple opportunities to put their skills to work this school year.  

Students Marion Stewart and Alissa Ricketson took part in a drafting project that required them to use their technical design skills in addition to critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration.  

“Students learn the foundation of architectural drafting and design in the classroom, but a deeper form of learning occurs when they can apply what they are learning to real-world projects,” explained Computer Aided Drafting instructor Russell Frick.  

Because of this, he continually searches for ways to connect students with clients. This year, though, projects found their way to him. 

Thinking Outside the Box 

An unconventional challenge was recently issued to Computer Aided Drafting students across the state. Elgin, Oklahoma, resident Gary Neighbors purchased two abandoned grain silos with a plan to turn them into short-term rental properties. He had the dream but didn’t have a design. He was familiar with Oklahoma’s CareerTech system and tapped into the creativity of the state’s architectural design students to find a functional floor plan.  

Neighbors provided students with his desired specifications and left the creativity up to them. Submissions could be provided in any format, from hand-drawn sketches to a rendering from a design program. Prizes would be awarded to first, second and third place designs for high school students and adults. The timeframe was ten days.  

Guthrie student Marion Stewart won first place in a statewide contest for developing a design plan to turn old grain silos into residential property.  

Despite only having a month or two of design experience, Stewart, a first-year Computer Aided Drafting student, thought she would give the contest a try thinking it would be a perfect way to get better at using AutoCAD, one of the first programs students learn how to use. She bounced ideas off of her instructor and on the final day of the contest, she settled on what she considered a simple design that included all of the elements Neighbors required.  

She was more than surprised when she found out her design was selected as the top design in the state.  

“I didn’t think I had a chance at winning,” she recalled. “I decided to do it because I thought it would be fun.” 

Stillwater student Alissa Ricketson won second place for her silo design.  

Ricketson, a second-year student, earned second place in the contest. Her design followed the spherical nature of the silo, which created several obstacles she had to overcome.  

“It took a couple of tries to get everything to line up. Almost nothing had straight lines,” she explained. “If they build this in real life, it’s going to take a lot of custom work.” 

Linking Everything Together 

Oklahoma’s Governor’s Council for work-based learning activities defines the framework as activities that provide Oklahomans with real-life or simulated work experiences to develop and apply academic, technical and essential skills required for success in the workplace. Work-based activities can include career exploration pursuits, industry-related field trips, guest speakers, apprenticeships and internships, job shadowing and on-the-job training.  

When students participate in work-based learning, they develop a deeper understanding of what it will be like when they enter the workforce.  

Every program at Meridian includes several components of work-based learning as part of career training. Frick applies work-based learning through guest speakers, many of whom are program graduates, and internships.  

Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, workforce and economic development assistance and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts. The school has locations in Stillwater and Guthrie. Meridian is one of 29 schools within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system.