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Zach Springer

Degree: Master of Fine Arts

What's next: Teach art and continue his collaborative art projects

Zach Springer loves to help people make and fix things.

As a Master of Fine Arts student, he has helped more than 30 friends and strangers with everything from building a chicken coop to sewing a quilt.

Springer started his collaborative handyman service, called "Build Something Together," as a project in Portland State University's Art and Social Practice program, which focuses on using art to engage society.

"I've been doing this my whole life, but it was a natural progression to call it my art," he says.

Springer got his start with collaborative building projects on construction sites as a child. His father, a contractor, would take him to work with him, and the workers would help him with small projects such as building a bike ramp.

He connects with people who need help through his website, buildsomethingtogether.com. He mostly uses free and recycled materials and rarely charges for his services.

For one project, he helped a first-grade class at Portland's Laurelhurst Elementary design, build and paint 27 birdhouses to auction at a school fundraiser. For another, he created a rooftop garden with park benches, a playhouse and two murals for the YWCA.

His website has taken him to New York, Kansas City, and Vancouver, B.C., Toronto to do community art projects and participate in shows. He plans to continue Build Something Together after graduation.