Tech undergrads update home for classmate in wheelchair

2012-12-13T00:00:00Z Tech undergrads update home for classmate in wheelchairBy Piper Haugan of The Montana Standard Montana Standard
December 13, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Last spring, Calven Goza was what his father describes as a “super sophomore” who had spent two and a half years in Montana Tech’s petroleum engineering program working toward his degree. The student from Greeley, Colo., liked his classes, his friends and his adopted home on West Copper Street in Butte.

He’s the same man today. But after surviving a car accident on Highway 43, his Copper Street home needs some updates so he can live there with his wheelchair.

Goza was one of five involved in the May 3 crash between Dewey and Divide. One passenger, 21-year-old Spencer Lewis, was killed at the scene, and Goza and two others were seriously injured. The driver, Myles Kittleson of Glasgow, was recently charged with felony vehicular homicide while under the influence and two counts of felony negligent vehicular assault, according to Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch.

In order for Goza to return to the home his father owns to get back to school for the spring semester, the structure needs new access ramps, the back room floor needs to be raised, and the porch needs updating, among other things.

Who else should step up to the challenge than Highlands College construction technology students?

Wednesday morning, a handful of students milled about the home as the snow fell. Some pulled out measuring tapes to check the width of the sliding porch door. Others hauled wood around, getting it into place.

Bill Ryan, Highlands College’s Trades and Technical Department head and construction tech instructor, watched the action and talked strategy with the students. He pointed out that from the back parking space – recently installed by Beckman Excavating- visitors have to make it up three different levels to get into the house, so three ramps will be needed. Work on the bedroom and bathroom is being done by Mike McNamee of Fine Fabric Care.

The students had put together their own design for the place to make it work for their fellow student.

Dean Bentley with ProBuild stopped by to check in on how things were going. He was able to provide the students with materials at cost, significantly cheaper than the original $900 price tag.

Bentley said ProBuild was happy to help, especially since the benefit was twofold: the project helps students learn and gives one student the ability to get back to school.

Goza’s father Jay said this type of kindness is one of the major reasons both of his sons chose Montana Tech. He said the family had checked out a few other schools, but it just took a short time in Butte and on campus at Tech for Calven Goza to make the decision to go to Tech.

“We’ve never regretted it,” Goza said, in the wake of the accident.

Goza said his son is currently re-enrolling at Tech, and with any luck he’ll be back in the Copper Street home by early January. Goza said Chancellor Don Blackketter has been exceptional at staying in touch and working on getting things on campus ready as well as at his home.

Thanks to fellow students, Goza won’t have to worry about accessing his home.

Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, or

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. micheleb
    Report Abuse
    micheleb - December 13, 2012 10:09 am
    Excellent lesson, job well done. Kudos to Bill Ryan, you are teaching the golden rule.
  2. bryan
    Report Abuse
    bryan - December 13, 2012 9:12 am
    old timer-

    look closer. Does that look like green concrete to you?

    This is a nice story about students helping one another- and you comment like this.
    Why don't you head down to Highlands and sit in on a class, we'll see how you feel after one day.
  3. soon to be an old timer
    Report Abuse
    soon to be an old timer - December 13, 2012 6:27 am
    I think building codes say that you must use treated lumber if it is in contact with concrete. So why are only a couple of the blocks in the photo treated, and who is the building inspector that signed off on this? I think these students need to hit the books a little longer.

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