Construction Management Team Places Fifth in National Competition
Construction management students from Pennsylvania College of Technology and their award-winning faculty adviser recently returned home from national competition with heads and three trophies held high.
The students attended the Associated Builders and Contractors' 2006 Student Construction Management Competition March 15-19 in Las Vegas. The Penn College team finished fifth overall, also posting an impressive second-place win in the "Safety" category and a third in "Estimating."
The four competing members were David W. Felter, Coraopolis; Daniel S. Pasternak, Richlandtown; Philip G. George, Shavertown; and Kyle W. Hauck, Mifflinburg. They were joined by Jared A. Hoover, Hollidaysburg; Todd J. Niedosik, Emmaus; and Michael D. Felix, Leesport.
"The competition is a valuable experience for our young careers because it provides a great opportunity to apply all the skills and experiences that we have acquired through college," said Felter, a senior and president of the Construction Management Association at Penn College. "The competition challenges students to use their knowledge, tests their skills and prepares them for their future in construction. ABC promotes their merit-shop practices in this competition and offers a showcase of future industry leaders to companies."
The competition also gives the college a chance to shine among its much-larger counterparts nationwide, Niedosik noted.
"Being able to compete against some of the bigger-name schools in the country is a great privilege," he said. "And being able to beat out most of them was even a bigger privilege."
Among this year's competitors were Georgia Tech, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University and Virginia Tech.
This year's competition drew teams from a record 23 colleges and universities, vying for more than $10,000 in cash and prizes, as well as the coveted "Construction Management Champions" title. Students competed in three areas: project management/scheduling, estimating and safety. Awards were given in each area, as well as an overall award for highest total points.
The overall winner was Florida International University, followed by the University of Washington, second; Brigham Young University, third; and Auburn University, fourth. Only Auburn placed ahead of Penn College in the "Safety" category; FIU and Washington tied for first in "Estimating," and BYU placed second.
"Each year, the Student Construction Management Competition gives ... students nationwide a taste of the real world of construction," said 2006 ABC National Chairman Jack Darnall IV, a vice president/health-care division manager for Brasfield & Gorrie, Birmingham, Ala. "This competition is a perfect complement to their construction management classes and serves as a showcase for their considerable talents in this field."
Teams essentially acted as general contractors throughout this year's seven-hour contest, which focused on conceptual estimating and featured a health-care facility as its focus.
"This program is an excellent way for ABC to support and improve construction education nationwide," Darnall said. "The format was very much 'real-world' and challenged the students to work well as a team under time constraints. It was a learning experience for students and faculty alike."
In addition to the student honors, the group's adviser Wayne R. Sheppard, assistant professor of construction management in the college's School of Construction and Design Technologies brought home the John Trimmer Excellence in Teaching Award. The award recognizes an outstanding college or university professor in a construction management program, and is named in honor of ABC's national executive vice president from 1952-76.
"I am deeply honored to be selected as the Trimmer Teaching Award recipient for 2006," Sheppard said. "Since my first involvement with ABC 11 years ago, this association has proven to be a leader in the construction industry. Penn College has received tremendous support from our local ABC chapter, ABC Central Pennsylvania, and their members in many ways. This interaction helps us build strong connections between academia and industry."
Larry Willis, president of W.W. Enterprises in Broken Arrow, Okla., and chair of the Trimmer Education Foundation, said Sheppard was chosen from among "some truly exceptional applications" for this year's award.
"Professor Sheppard has demonstrated commitment to advancing construction education, serving as student-chapter mentor and supporting free enterprise and the merit-shop philosophy," he said. "He is truly helping to shape the next generation of construction professionals. Under his guidance, the ABC Student Chapter at Penn College has grown significantly and has also become highly active with their local ABC chapter. (His) support to his students and to construction higher education is helping to build a new wave of emerging leaders in both the construction industry and within ABC."
In addition to the competition, the Penn College students (all of them enrolled in the construction management bachelor-degree major) attended educational sessions, networked with their peers from other student chapters and met potential employers. The students conducted several fund-raisers and received industry support to collect more than $10,000 to pay for their trip. The group traveled across country in a 30-foot RV, stopping at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam before arriving in Las Vegas.
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national association representing 23,000 related firms in almost 80 chapters across the United States. For more information, visit ABC online.