The sweet smell of sawdust and the hum of a drill surrounded the members of the Women in Construction Club at Clovis High School as they built a set of furniture — which they designed themselves, of course.
When the National Association of Women in Construction saw last year that the group could handle drills, miter saws and orbital sanders, they put them up to a challenge: build a couple of picnic tables for local nonprofit organizations.
This year, the association upped the ante.
“They upped the intensity level and complexity of our design,” said careers in construction pathway teacher and club adviser Jay Eichmann. “We’ve been challenged to do one complete (furniture) set, so two chairs, one table. It was a complete design-build. All we got was a picture from them. It had to fold and they wanted it for beach use.”
Originally the challenge was only to create a set of chairs for the Evangel Home, a local women and children’s shelter, but Women in Construction Club president Lavenia Reed, a junior, insisted on adding a table.
“I could not put my head around the logistics of it, but she insisted it wouldn’t be complete without a table,” Eichmann said.
The girls completed the set during National Women in Construction Week and coincidentally on March 8, International Women’s Day, an annual celebration of women’s achievements.
Club members presented the furniture to the local NAWIC chapter at its celebratory dinner Thursday evening.
The Women in Construction club has about 20 regular members — eight of whom worked on the furniture project — and is believed to be one of the only high school level clubs of its kind in the nation.
Reed has been in the club since her freshman year.
“It gives me a sense of power and confidence,” she said. “It’s a real confidence boost to see it going from the plans to actually doing it and having the finished product.”
Eichmann created the club to encourage more girls to enroll in the construction career pathway.
“This is a way for them to have a little fun without the boys breathing down their neck,” he said.