UC Team Goes for Third Straight at National Construction Management Competition

By: Lauren Koch
Photos By: Lauren Koch

UPDATE (5/3): The Bearcats placed 1st in estimating, continuing UC's legacy of world class engineering education!

The 2012 ABC competition team, (Left to Right): Tony Diller, Jonathan Budde, Jeremy Bosl, Brent Sexton, Melissa Sexton

The 2012 ABC competition team, (Left to Right): Tony Diller, Jonathan Budde, Jeremy Bosl, Brent Sexton, Melissa Sexton

The University of Cincinnati ABC competition team defends their title at the 2012 Construction Management Student Competition. As the defending ABC Competition champions, the bar will be set high on this team's construction knowledge, organization, time-management and presentation skills. These Bearcats are primed and ready to think quickly on their feet and out bid the competition!

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) student members from colleges and universities across the nation travel to San Antonio, TX to compete in the 2012 Construction Management Competition, held during the 2012 EdCon & Expo April 23-27.

Members of the ABC competition team, Jonathan Budde, Jeremy Bosl, Tony Diller, Brent Sexton and Melissa Sexton, are all 4th and 5th year construction management students and represent the best of the best.

Budde, the team captain, was a part of last year’s championship Bearcat team and has a good grasp on what to expect during the competition. He says, “It’s definitely a little bit of pressure… we have won two years in a row, but I think we have a good team and a good chance.”

Each year, the competition consists of three phases.  The first phase, the research phase, takes place before the teams arrive in Texas.  The full team, all 5 members, works for approximately nine weeks compiling the research for the project proposal. Proposals contain every detail to the construction proposal and address all aspects of what a real life company would produce to start a major construction project: bid, specs, schedule, materials, labor, equipment, safety, planning, financing etc.

Of the five team members, only four are allowed to participate in the competition. One team member must act as the team alternate, to provide moral support and document the process to help prepare next year’s team.

Once at the competition, students must turn their original plans in to the judges.  This year’s project is the renovation of an elementary school.  After spending two months researching and planning the remodeling effort, the team now awaits phase two and the competition starts to really heat-up.

Phase two consists of a “curveball”, or major changes to the project proposal. The participating teams are informed that they now have to develop a plan that could be entirely different from the original proposal. The team must evaluate and revise their plan based on new requirements.  Teams are then given 8 hours to re-think and re-structure their plan.

Each year there is a new twist to phase two. Last year competitors participated and a large mock-bid-day. Budde describes, "The format of last year was called "bid day." Throughout the day bids were given to us from fake companies to be included in our estimate.  There were multiple from each trade so we had to determine which we should use and some of the bids came in with very little time left so it put on the pressure."

If selected for phase three, the finals, students must prepare to give a five minute presentation, followed by a 20 minute question and answer session with the judges. Last year, only 8 teams out of all 25 teams were selected for the final round of the competition.

The Bearcats are competing against teams from universities across the country.  “For some of us, this is exactly what we do on our co-ops, just on a larger scale,” explains Bosl. “The other schools are at a definite disadvantage, not having field experience and being able to see how things are done in the real world.”

Each year the competition is designed to challenge students on subjects they may not traditionally learn in the classroom setting. Construction management classes and competition requirements are typically geared towards new construction projects. This year’s competition pushes students even further by incorporating two new elements, demolition and local labor sourcing. This variation from the norm has not scared off the Bearcat team. The team feels prepared and empowered by their collective co-op placements at both large and small companies.

“It is nice because we have such a diverse range of co-op experience…” says Budde. “This year’s particular project is an elementary school renovation, so Brent’s experience in demolition is a huge help to the team.”

Budde recalls a similar feeling at last year’s competition, “We realized the competition was to expose us to different elements of construction that we rarely see, however, our UC program is so structured that we all had previous exposure to these things already.” He remains confident that the 2012 Bearcat ABC competition team will continue their success at the 2012 Construction Management Competition.

UC-CEAS competition teams have placed each year since 2007: first place in 2011 and 2010, second place in 2009 and 2008 and first place in 2007.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national association with 74 chapters representing 22,000 merit shop construction and construction-related firms with nearly two million employees. ABC's membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors of the industry.”

“The ABC Student Chapters Program is a dynamic network of more than 50 colleges and universities offering construction-related degree programs nationwide. At the local level, student chapters facilitate the interaction of ABC member firms, construction faculty and college students through a variety of industry association and school events, including regular membership meetings, guest speakers, internships, community service projects, fundraisers, career fairs/career awareness events, job site tours and other activities. “