College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ECIC club wins first place in national construction management competition

ECIC team checking their construction plans in the computer lab
ECIC team checking their construction plans in the computer lab

Iowa State University Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering’s (CCEE) National Electrical Contractor’s Association (NECA) club took home a $4,000, first-place award this fall at the annual Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge held during the NECA National Convention in Austin, Texas. The team placed first in the overall presentation portion of the challenge, an award determined by combining the scores of a written proposal and the oral presentation.

The competition begins in the spring and is a challenge designed to introduce students to the electrical contracting industry. The students receive a proposal request from the organization, put together a written proposal throughout the spring semester, and work on the presentation portion in the fall. This year’s competition theme was electrical construction management. The team received a full set of plans from 2012 and had to put together a full construction cost estimate, a bid and full construction schedule. Iowa State’s team had to find a site that was on or near campus, and work with local NECA contractors to complete the project.

As the team went through the process from start to finish, they had to overcome several challenges. 

“As they were beginning the project, the students discovered that some of the light fixtures for the project weren’t even manufactured anymore,” CCEE teaching professor and club advisor Jenny Baker said. “So they had to come up with alternatives on their own.”

In July, the team heard that they were in the top three for the competition – and placed first in the written portion, so they started working on the presentation in the fall. Baker said the team spent over 1200 hours from beginning to end on the project.

“I think each of the eight students on the ECIC written proposal team probably spent around 150 hours each on everything that went into the written proposal, and the proposal itself,” Baker said. “With eight people and 150 hours each, that’s about 1200 hours total.”

Throughout the challenge, students gained and enhanced many of their skills. 

“The Electrical Contracting Innovation Challenge has helped me grow by showing me the hard work and dedication needed from a team to put together a complete proposal as well as a comprehensive presentation,” Mitchell Hayes, senior in construction engineering, said.

The challenge encompasses a variety of opportunities to grow, from networking to technical writing, and more.

“The team grows a lot of their skills in this competition,” Baker said. “The teamwork piece, dividing up the project, deciding who does what, and communicating with each other to make sure they are all doing things parallel is a huge accomplishment.” 

The students build connections with industry partners by collaborating with local businesses and contractors. 

“The ECIC competition was an amazing experience that gave me a great chance to learn about electrical contracting, and I was able to make connections with people in the industry,” Zach Clausing, senior in construction engineering, said.

And through proposal writing and presentation practice, students grow their technical writing and presentation skills.

“I am very proud of the team, seeing how much they have grown and how they work together,” Baker said. “They figured out the problem and solved it using a variety of resources. There has definitely been growth from each one of them.”

The following students are a part of this season’s winning team:

  • Lucas Gilman (senior in construction engineering)
  • Ty Turner (senior in construction engineering)
  • Megan Lingafelter (senior in construction engineering)
  • Zach Clausing (senior in construction engineering)
  • Luke Eggers (senior in construction engineering)
  • Mitchell Hayes (senior in construction engineering)
  • Clare Holden (senior in construction engineering)
  • Noah Wempen (senior in construction engineering)