A group of Pennsylvania College of Technology students placed third in the Associated Builders and Contractors' National Construction Management Competition held recently in Las Vegas.
In addition to that impressive performance, the team claimed first place in the project management category against such formidable competition as Ohio State University - and finished second in estimating during the Nov. 2-5 event.
Members of the Penn College team were construction management majors Preston K. Nelson, of New Tripoli, captain; Charles J. Lutz, of Reading; Alanna P. Ottenberg, of Latrobe; Anthony V. Rode, of Lords Valley; Nicholas S. Tomaine, of Lafayette Hill; and Everett J. Zaluski, of Warrington. All are members of Penn College's Construction Management Association, twice named ABC's "Student Chapter of the Year."
Faculty adviser Wayne R. Sheppard, right, joins his team of Penn College construction management students that placed third in a national competition: From left, Everett J. Zaluski, Warrington; Anthony V. Rode, Lords Valley; Nicholas S. Tomaine, Lafayette Hill; Charles J. Lutz, Reading; Alanna P. Ottenberg, Latrobe; and team captain Preston K. Nelson, New Tripoli.
"We within the School of Construction & Design Technologies and the college are very proud of our students' accomplishments," said Marc E. Bridgens, school dean. "The opportunity to showcase their education and professionalism in a national setting and excel as they have is outstanding."
The recent results continue a string of annual successes in national competition, including second-place finishes in each of the past two years. It was the second consecutive competition for Zaluski and Lutz, the third for Nelson and Tomaine. The group was again advised and accompanied by Wayne R. Sheppard, assistant professor of building construction management.
This year's task started in the early days of the fall semester when student competitors were given requests for proposals and spent the next two months preparing to bid on the project, testing their skills in the areas of project management, estimating, safety, quality control and presentation.
The competition gives students an opportunity to apply their classroom learning to a lifelike scenario, challenging their knowledge of the industry, time management, and organizational and presentation skills. The 2013 ABC competition specifically involved putting together a bid for a three-story, 80,000-square-foot prototypical medical center in Orlando, Fla.
The initial step included construction of the shell and core of the building, but on competition day, teams had to think on their feet when hit with a change order: an addition to the bid that included completing the second and third floor to the tenants' specifications.
After putting their proposals together, students outlined them for a panel of judges as if they were presenting to a client.
"The competition truly offers the team real-world situations and tests us on how well we react to them," Nelson said. "In early September, we received the initial information about the project and immediately started working." Carving out time between classes and course work, most of the team's preparation was completed between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. - with more than a few weekends in one another's company.
"We created a plan to break up the work, and then we began to execute it, starting with the estimate," Nelson said. "Everyone was given several divisions to complete, which helped the team understand the materials and methods needed to construct the project. This understanding, in turn, helped create a detailed project-management plan, understand the safety risks and how to implement quality controls on the project."
Penn College's four-year construction management major aids in every aspect of the competition, the team captain noted.
"Our estimating class prepares us to complete detailed quantity take-off (the measurement of labor and materials necessary for a project's completion), as well as teaches us how to qualify subcontractor quotes to ensure we do not have any gaps in our scope of work," Nelson said.
"There are many classes that assist with the project-management plan, including job-site management, project management, scheduling and many more. We learn site utilization - how to use a site efficiently - which was a large part of this year's competition," he added. "Also, we learn how to build a project that flows, and how to represent that project flow in a schedule. Overall, the education that we receive at Penn College gives us the opportunity to not only be successful in these competitions, but also helps start our careers."
The University of Cincinnati took home top overall honors among the 21 schools in this year's competition; Florida International University placed second.
Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. is a national association representing 22,000 members in more than 19,000 industry-related firms in 70 chapters across the United States. For more information, visit www.abc.org.