Two CAECM Teams Take Silver in Construction Competitions

By:    Brandon Pytel
Date: March 1, 2018

Two student-led teams continued UC’s winning tradition at regional and national construction competitions.

The electrical team poses with their awards.

The UC team placed second in the ASC electrical competition in Reno, Nevada.

Students of University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) have a long history of piling up medals in regional and national competitions. This past month was no different. UC student-led teams took home the silver in two separate competitions: the Ohio Contractor’s Association (OCA) heavy highway competition in Columbus and the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) electrical competition in Reno, Nevada.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Kody Snyder (civil engineering ’18), captain of the Reno team. “It meant a lot to put together a project we were proud of and that we were rewarded for.”

The Reno site, which hosted both a conference and competition, accommodated 49 universities from 21 different states. The UC team found itself competing against 10 other teams in the electrical category. Coached by Jason Mack, assistant professor in CAECM, this team met once a week for a month leading up to the competition.

“It was great to be coached by Professor Mack. He comes from an industry background and was always open to answer our questions and help us before the competition,” said Snyder. “He made a great experience even better.”

Once at Reno, students had to solve a simulation that they might one day encounter in the professional field: the addition of a parking garage on an office-building contract. In a 16-hour timeframe, the team had to put together an estimate for a parking garage, a combined schedule for the project, a construction budget and several other deliverables.

“The best part of the competition is that you find out what you do and do not know,” said Snyder. “When you receive these tasks, you must teach yourself on the fly.” That thinking on the fly paid off as the team walked away with second in the electrical category.

members of the UC team pose at the OCA conference

UC team members took second in the OCA heavy highway competition in Columbus, Ohio.

At the state’s capitol, the UC team fared just as well, placing second overall. Kearstin O’Mara (construction management ’19), captain of the OCA heavy highway team, talked about her team’s time in Columbus: “It was an incredible experience to be able to put yourself in a situation that will prepare you for a full-time position.”

The OCA competition required teams to simulate an actual bidding process for construction and highway projects. The UC team, coached by Rob Lichter of Jurgensen Cos., bid on a parking lot project that consisted of solar panels, drainage structures and a lot of dirt work.

“It seemed so simple at first,” said O’Mara, “but then we dug in and it turned out to be much more difficult than we anticipated.”

The group learned how to work as a team and plan in a fast-paced environment. They also took advantage of the resources around them. “It was a great feeling to have industry professionals who have worked in the construction field tell you that you did things just as they would have,” said O’Mara.

Both these competitions gave students a sneak peek into the professional field and a chance to work on simulated construction projects. Students walked away closer to each other through their shared experience of learning and working together.

“It sometimes felt like we laughed more than we worked,” said O’Mara. “We had so much fun, while gaining so much knowledge in the industry.”

The UC ASC Reno team consisted of Kody Snyder, Conner Mesker, Nicholas Kibler, Danny Holstein, Jake Yavoesky and Dominic Dea.

The UC OCA team consisted of Kearstin O’Mara, Blake Weekley, Kitty DiFalco, Kyle Kleuner, Mike Hrovat and Ryan Davis.