Iowa State University construction engineering students won three divisions in the 23rd Annual Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Region 4 Construction Management Student Competition. The event was held Oct. 21-24, 2015, at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, Neb.
Iowa State won the commercial, design-build, and heavy highway divisions, and placed second in this year’s specialty contracting division. They competed among 168 students from 28 university teams based in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
“This competition completely confirmed my choice to go into construction,” said Mackenzie Alberts, construction engineering senior and captain of Iowa State’s design-build team. “This is exactly what I want to do with my life.”
Each team was given 18 hours to schedule, estimate, run cost analyses and resolve several surprise management issues on given project scenarios. Each division was given a different mock request for proposal, or RFP, on a real project. Each team then gave a 20-minute presentation to a panel of industry judges, who rated mock proposals on process and planning, cash flow projections, schedule, budget, oral presentation and a written supplement.
Iowa State’s commercial team won the mock proposal for the renovation of two adjoined, 4-story residence halls at a private Midwestern college. Commercial team students included senior Rick Smith (captain), senior Ryan Emerson, junior Jacob Lane, senior Nick Mendez, junior Charles Sweeney, and senior Josh Tuggle. Iowa State has won the commercial division 13 times since 1994.
The winning Iowa State design-build team was Alberts (captain), junior Colby Baumhover, senior Carson Bruess, junior Ryan Craven, senior Haylee Hansen, and architecture senior Jeremy Zehr. ASC challenged them to produce a construction plan for the Colorado-based Front Range Outdoors program outreach education center and main office. Requirements included 8,500 square feet of multipurpose classrooms, administrative space, grand hall, restrooms, and a LEED Certified rating. Iowa State has won the design-build division 14 times in the last 16 years.
Alberts recognized alumni support in preparing students for competition. “The network of alumni who were eager to help us prepare is unrivaled,” she said. “To see people who graduated 10-plus years ago still involved in the program is amazing and very inspiring.”
Iowa State’s winning heavy highway team included junior Blake Gethmann (captain), freshman Ben Burds, junior Cameron Mehls, junior Kevin Ruth, senior Skyler Saemisch, and senior Richard Van. Heavy highway division teams were tasked to plan a federal-state highway bridge replacement, including mass excavation/embankment, drainage, rip-rap, subgrade, sub-base, mechanically stabilized earth wall, and asphalt paving. Iowa State has won the heavy highway division six times in the last 14 years.
This year the specialty contracting division replaced the competition’s residential division. The runner-up Iowa State team included senior Dylan Busby (captain), junior Lauren Bennett, senior Daniel Carson, sophomore Tristen Girolamo, junior Kyle Kilburg, senior Scott Miller, and senior Paul Sauter. Their challenge was to produce an electrical construction package for a fertilizer facility addition. Project components included distribution equipment procurement and installation, grounding system installation, power wiring, lighting procurement and installation, and equipment checkout and commissioning.
Iowa State builds on a legacy, as they’ve placed first 42 times in the ASC competition’s 21-year history (Iowa State did not compete in 1995 and 1996). “We have truly great students who accept the challenge and prepare to win every semester,” said Senior Lecturer and Weitz Faculty Fellow Larry Cormicle (BSConE’78, MSCE’10), who has coached Iowa State’s ASC teams since 2002. “This is a testament to the quality of our faculty and construction engineering curriculum.” Senior Lecturer Brad Perkins also coached student teams, and Assistant Professor Yelda Turkan accompanied students on the trip.
Van agreed with Cormicle. “Students in construction engineering are held to a high level of professionalism, as if they are already employed by a Fortune 100 Construction firm,” he said. “We are pushed to our limits to ensure that when we leave Iowa State we are more than prepared to begin our careers.”