• Student Stories: Stephen Sharr

  • Architectural Engineering Technology

    Off-road racing in a special wheelchair, whitewater rafting, baseball and volleyball are just a few of MHCC student Stephen Sharr’s pastimes.

    Much like his approach to sports, Sharr is facing his life as a student with gusto. Embarking on his second year in the Architectural Engineering program at MHCC next fall, Sharr is already designing homes for his brother’s construction company.

    Sharr spent 30 years custom building homes around Oregon and the United States. Three years ago he fell off a roof and broke his back, and from then on would have to be in a wheelchair. Needing to find a new line of work, Sharr looked around for a college program that would make the most of his extensive construction knowledge.
    “I checked the programs at other community colleges and MHCC’s was the right choice,” Sharr said. “The program teaches more than just AutoCAD and drafting, it covers the technical information like structures, engineering, surveying and how to put it all together to create a well-designed home.”

    Sharr has come a long way during his first year at MHCC. He started out knowing nothing about computers, and after a few basic computer classes, he was ready to enter the program. When Sharr turned in his first set of plans drawn on AutoCAD, his instructor was so impressed with the completeness and accuracy of his drawings, his instructor told him he’d demonstrated mastery of everything necessary to pass. But Sharr wasn’t content to take his “A” and not attend class; he came in regularly to assist other students with their AutoCAD work.

    As an older student, Sharr felt a “little nervous” coming to college, but met many other students in his age bracket and soon had a group of friends of all ages. He is especially pleased with the quality and helpfulness of the instructors.

    “The instructors are very understanding of my needs, and when things get tough, I can give them a call. They are always open to working with me. They’ve really taught me a lot,” Sharr said.

    There are some accessibility situations on campus that Sharr would like to see improved, such as better access to restroom facilities, but he’s not deterred.

    Now, when designing a home, Sharr considers accessibility requirements, something he’d never thought of while working as a builder.

    Sharr has plans to continue designing homes for his builder/developer brother, Rick Sharr, and will work for him full-time after graduation.

    For now, Sharr is taking a break before school starts in the fall. He is planning to take family members on a trip to Alaska aboard his 65-foot yacht.