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Morrisville State College wood products technology students craft one-of-a-kind desks

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Jerry Dowling’s new desk is better than anything he could buy in a store. Not just because it’s sturdy, sleek, and one-of-a-kind, but because it’s been crafted with tender loving care—his own.

Dowling, of Oneida, helped design then built the desk in wood technology classes at Morrisville State College along with five other students in the college’s wood products technology associate degree program.

Students came up with the design concept last semester and each built the model as a project in associate professor Lenno Mbaga’s Secondary Wood Processing class. This semester, they placed the finishing touches on the desks in instructor Jim Costello’s Wood Glues, Laminates and Finishes class.

While the basic design is the same, each desk is topped with a different finish in shades that vary from red mahogany to light oak. Some students will be giving their desks away as gifts to friends and family, while others are keeping them as a hallmark of their accomplishments.

Dowling is especially proud of his finished product. It’s a reminder that you are never too old to learn something new. An adult student, Dowling came back to school following a long career in the lumber industry.

At Morrisville, he’s been able to hone his woodworking skills while also learning more about finishing a product.

“Let’s say I’ve learned what not to do,” Dowling joked regarding different finishes he tried on the desk he plans to give a permanent spot in his home.

Paul Curley, 19, of Frederick Md., is planning on giving his finished masterpiece to his cousin in return for a television he gave him for his dorm room.

One lucky Morrisville State College faculty or staff member will also have a chance to take home a custom-built desk through a raffle next semester.

The distinctive desks feature two drawers with a built-in wooden writing tablet and plenty of surface space. Sleek radius curves on either end are the workmanship of students who utilized the college’s CNC machine, while dovetail drawers also add to the desks’ appeal.

While some students kept it simple, others embellished their projects to give them even more character.

Luke Winn, 20, of Bainbridge, inlayed a curly oak strip into each desk drawer. Walnut legs from a tree cut down in Costello’s yard further add to his desk’s charm.

The finished accent pieces are just a sample of what students have created in the college’s wood products technology program.

Andrew Betros, of Poughkeepsie, also made an end table and other products through the program. Additionally, students made custom cutting boards which were sold through the newly formed Wood Products Technology Club.

“The experience I have gained is so important to my future plans,” said Betros, who is aiming for a career making furniture.

“This whole experience has been unbelievable,” Dowling said. “Morrisville has opened many doors for me.”

Students in Morrisville State College’s wood products technology program can choose from two options; finish carpentry, or furniture production and business. They gain hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art Wood Products Technology Building which is also equipped with a sawmill and dry kilns.

Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Community Service Honor Roll. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.