Re-Roofing the Big Easy: CEAS Students Travel to New Orleans for Roofing Competition

By:    Brandon Pytel
Date: March 6, 2018

A team of construction management and civil engineering students at UC traveled to New Orleans to compete in a roofing competition and learn more about the industry.

the roofing team stands in front of Baldwin Hall wearing matching red polos

The UC roofing competition team from left to right: Brian Mallernee, Chase Muhlbaier, Matt Hudak, Michael Salzler and Danny Kurtz.

The University of Cincinnati (UC), known for its nationally renowned cooperative education (co-op) program, regularly blends academics with industry. Recently, a team of UC College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) students went down to New Orleans to do just that.

The team of UC students, led by Matt Hudak (construction management ’18), took part in the Roofing Alliance for Progress’ student competition and attended the National Roofing Contractors’ Association (NRCA) conference. The team also toured the Audubon Aquarium in downtown New Orleans.

“It was rewarding to see a different side of the industry,” said Hudak. “This trip gave us an opportunity to broaden our knowledge, and it gives us an edge when looking for full-time positions.”

To prepare for the competition, the team paired with an industry advisor to review the project they were assigned. “It was an awesome experience to work with an industry professional,” said Hudak, whose team worked with Paul Novak from Kalkreuth Roofing. “[Novak] brought insights from his experiences in the field to our project, which helped immensely.”

two members of the roofing team stand atop the aquarium overlooking a waterfront.

Hudak and Muhlbaier with one of their advisers, Mandy Albrecht, stand atop the Audubon Aquarium.

The project was a re-roof simulation of the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, located in the heart of the city on the Mississippi River. The plan required the aquarium to be open for the duration of the re-roof, which made the project more difficult in terms of logistics, quality and safety. The tight quarters between the canal, train tracks and dock required the team to think creatively in their work. Ultimately, it made for a good learning experience.

“The competition taught us what it’s like to work on a project team,” said Hudak. “It also gave us real-world experience in terms of potential issues that can arise when planning a project and putting together a bid proposal.”

Hudak has already accepted a full-time position with Kalkreuth Roofing’s Columbus, Ohio office after graduation. This experience, along with his co-op rotations in the engineering field, will help Hudak and his teammates prepare for a meaningful and productive career after UC.