Leaves mark on community
For 34 years, Larry Kent mentored and taught Moraine Park Technical College students using a real-life, project-based approach that teamed student learning with community service. Kent, of Fond du Lac, retired in May. During his lengthy career, he and his students have contributed to several significant community projects – a tribute to Kent’s unwavering commitment to community service.
While Kent launched his teaching career within Moraine Park’s Water and Wastewater Program in 1977, he found his calling in 1983 when he assumed the lead instructor position in the Civil Engineering Technician Program. Since that time, he has taught approximately 13 different courses and mentored more than 300 program graduates. As the program morphed through the years, Kent and his students embraced a number of technological changes, including the transition from manual drafting to computer- aided drafting (CAD) and the mastery of a number of CAD software programs. All the while, however, Kent worked to involve students in real-life, community-based projects …
“Larry served on the Oakfield Village Board of Directors for years,” said Tony O’Malley, former Board president. “He was an expert in civil engineering and having his expertise was a real benefit to the Village. Anytime he could put his students to work on a project, he did. Oakfield benefited a great deal from their efforts.”
In the Village of Oakfield, Kent and his students designed the Oakfield Village Park shelter, which included restrooms, a warming house and storage building; as well as an announcer’s booth for the baseball and football fields. At Acorn Park, in Oakfield, they also helped design a plan for development of the oak arboretum. Similarly, in Fond du Lac, they prepared a contour map to develop the band shelter and running routes at Buttermilk Park; designed and prepared a cost estimate for a picnic shelter for a local church; and surveyed the building, grounds and utilities at Camp Byron. Additionally, within Fond du Lac County, Kent and his students performed field surveys for several small municipalities as required by the Dept. of Transportation. And, most recently, his class worked on a bike trail at Moraine Park’s West Bend campus.
“Larry and his students surveyed the area to determine how much fill and excavation was needed to connect our trail to the popular Eisenbaum Bike Trail,” said Pete Rettler, West Bend online/campus partner at Moraine Park. “With this information, we obtained a very good project cost estimate and are now searching for grants to help cover that cost.”
Through his teaching and service, Kent positively impacted his community and mentored his students to success in college and beyond. “I believe technical education should be practical,” said Kent. “I tried to give the students real-life education by having real-life projects in the classroom, when feasible and practical. I made every effort to have students engage in leadership roles, while I acted as a consultant to them, filling in areas where they might not yet be technically prepared. They really enjoyed community projects because they felt good knowing their work helped someone out.”
A recognized civil servant, Kent leaves Moraine Park to pursue interests such as gardening, woodworking, music, camping, canoeing and reading, while still contributing to his community. Just last week he completed a painting project for a retiree as part of a mission project established by Kent and his friend. They help church members with home projects. “We have helped paint, do yard work, moved things and assisted other volunteer organizations,” Kent said. Additionally, he is an active member of his local Lion’s Club.
In addition to his 34-year-tenure at Moraine Park, Kent holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UW-Platteville, a master’s degree in engineering from UW-Milwaukee, and a Professional Engineer in Wisconsin license. Prior to joining Moraine Park, he served as a process engineer for a major manufacturer of wastewater equipment and as a design engineer for a civil engineering consulting company.