Construction students in Iowa build, donate dog agility ramp

May 12, 2019

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — The Cedar Valley’s first public dog agility ramp has found its home.

A group of University of Northern Iowa students in a construction resources class, taught by Austin Maginnis, built and donated the A-frame structure to Waterloo Parks and Recreation for Pat Bowlsby Off-Leash Dog Park.

“We’re hoping to see some happy faces around it and make an impact on the community,” Maginnis said to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

The students worked with Waterloo Parks and Recreation Facilities Project Manager Travis Nichols to formulate their idea into something useful for the community.

“Any time you can work with anybody in the community and share something like this, it’s a great opportunity for UNI and the city of Waterloo,” Nichols said.

Made up of a large platform with two broad ramps hinged together on either side, the A-frame adds a chance for pups to climb, jump or race their way up and down while playing at the off-leash dog park.

Students spent about 135 hours on the project, including concept design, ordering supplies, building and transporting.

Seniors Amy Kallenberger and Anastasia Spyratos, both interior design majors, designed the unit using AutoCAD, a computer-aided design and drafting software application.

“This was really cool to see it being built and to see it in action,” Kallenberger said.

In the past, Maginnis has assigned his students a task. This semester he asked his students, “If you had 25 students that you could do anything with to better the community or better your university, what would you build? This is one of the ideas. It was a glorified dog house when it first started, then the A-frame came about.”

While constructing a miniature prototype of the structure to show to Nichols, the students discovered it rocked back and forth a little bit, so they added cross braces underneath for stability. Two-by-12-inch pieces of wood also were added around the base so lawn mowers would not damage the ramps.

Cayd Lara, a construction management major who has spent the last four summers working construction, took the lead on the project.

“I’m a freshman, and I didn’t really know anyone, so group projects kind of help build a bond with people,” he said. Lara, also a UNI wrestler, hopes to someday run his own construction business, or coach wrestling.

Maginnis is familiar with leading projects for students to give back to the community. His classes also have built a toy box and buddy benches for area elementary schools.

Ethan Martin, a UNI senior, and Brandon Beaty, freshman, recently delivered the toy box they built to Poyner Elementary School in Evansdale.

“The kids were all screaming. They were so excited,” Martin said.

Maginnis said seeing the community benefit from his class makes it all worthwhile.


Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com