Warehouse Warriors Take on Industrial Educators

Article excerpt

When students from industrial education programs at two universities battled it out on a cable television network, career and technical education came out a winner.

On November 22, 2002, a special episode of "Warehouse Warriors" was taped. It was special in several ways. First, it was the 43rd episode of "Warehouse Warriors" for the DIY (Do It Yourself) Channel, a cable channel devoted to enabling people to master a wide variety of homeowner technologies. This meant that the program had been renewed for another year, and their market share was growing.

Secondly, the show was significant to the crew because it marked the last episode for which the producer, Tom Crib, would serve.

Most significantly, however, for anyone associated with industrial education, this episode matched students from the Industrial Technology Education program at Central Michigan University (CMU) against students from the Technology Education program of Purdue University. Thus, an epic battle was anticipated.

The Cast of Characters

The show's premise is a weekend DIYer's dream-essentially, six competitors (three on each team) are locked in a "Home Depot-like" facility stocked with everything a DIYer could want ...pristine tools, state-of-the-art building materials and top-of-the-line machinery. Three videogenic DIY experts-Ed, Jay and Scott-keep the competing teams on task and at work and also serve as the on-screen personalities.

Ed Del Grande, the show's host, is first and foremost a fine craftsperson and master plumber who hails from Providence, Rhode Island. Each week, he flies to Knoxville and shoots four episodes in quick succession, then flies back to his family to recuperate from the stresses and trials of managing maverick contestants like physics professors and cranky football players, not to mention his cable company bosses. He does it with a unique style and the engaging smile that made him a favorite standup comedian during the 1980s.

Jay Baker and Scott Branscom, on the other hand, both live in Tennessee but specialize in Hollywoodworking-both are veteran actors who have also spent significant time at the jobsite in construction trades. And every week, each assumes the elder craftsperson role for one of the two competing teams. Like all elders, they are really good at articulating the best way to get something done. While this may be perceived as overbearing by particularly testosterone-laden contestants and viewers, the students from Purdue and CMU quickly recognized Ed and Jay's expertise and merely asked, "Where's the duct tape?"

Lights, Cameras, Construction!

On the television screen, the set looks huge, and the glitter of new tools and machines makes the show alluring to tool junkies everywhere. On the set, however, it is rather cramped, and behind the scenes, people squeeze through passageways crowded with bays of electronic audio and video equipment. Three cameras operate pretty much continuously on each set-the red team's set and the blue team's set.

The weekly series pits two teams against each other in identically wellstocked warehouses, racing against time and each other to design and build a winning home-improvement project. The project is a secret until the cameras roll, when the teams, using only their wits, brawn and the help of their expert, design and build a completed project in only eight hours.

That cool morning in November, the CMU and Purdue teams were clearly nervous on arrival. The secrecy of the project and the excitement of meeting the stars of the show made for butterflies and nervous joking backstage. …