Construction management students hit nail on the head at competition

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BYU’s construction management student team took first place at the Associated Schools of Construction Competition after 16 hours of planning and creating an award-winning project. Two BYU teams took third place in separate categories in this year’s competition.

The competition consisted of a variety of categories that teams work to compete and place in. Teams act as a general contractor and are given a construction problem; they then have to create a proposal for their assigned project. Construction problems this year ranged from renovations for a football stadium to designing a school.

BYU sent 30 students and five professors to Reno, Nevada, to represent the school and compete in the annual competition.

Professor Justin Weidman has helped coach the program for four years now. This year he coached two different teams that participated in the competition.

“It allows them to practice everything that they have been learning in class and challenge themselves to work together as a team,” Weidman said.

BYU student team working on computers to finish the project by the deadline. (Zach Harris)
A BYU construction management team works on computers to finish a project before the deadline. (Zach Harris)

Teamwork is definitely a key component in the construction competition. The students work together as a team throughout the busy day. Each team receives a room to set up computers which are used as a workstation for the project.

Amy Umstead is a senior in the construction management program and has competed in the competition twice.

“We are able to put everything we have learned into play … the learning curve is huge,” Umstead said.

Students and professors agree the competition provides a lot of learning and real world application experience.

“It is a great opportunity, some students say that they learn as much in 14 hours as they do in one whole class,”  Professor Weidman said.

The morning of the competition, students are up by 5 a.m. so they can receive the assignment and begin the process.

Jevin Pharis, a junior in the construction management program, competed for his first time this year.

“In the first hour, we prayed and then we were like, ‘OK, let’s do this,'” Pharis said.

Chase Edwards, who is also a junior in the construction management program, said “it is a pretty hectic schedule.”

Student sitting after the presentation and project was finished waiting for results.
Josh Hunter sits after the presentation and project was finished and waits for results.    (Jevin Pharis)

As soon as the competition starts, the pressure sets in and the clock starts ticking.

“You are basically on adrenaline the whole time, because you have to get it done,” Umstead said.

The adrenaline helps carry the teams throughout the day because the limiting timeline doesn’t allow the students many breaks.

“We weren’t so good about taking breaks because we didn’t have much time to work,” Umstead said. “The professors came by around six in the evening and we had pizza. We did listen to music and we had a few impromptu dance parties.”

At 10 p.m., the teams submit the finalized project. Failing to turn in the project on time can lead to a penalty which would affect the overall score for the team.

“I turned it in at 9:59 p.m.,” Umstead said. “It was really stressful, but we got it turned in on time so we were happy about that.”

After the projects are turned in, preparations begin for the team presentations held the next morning.

“The hardest part was knowing how the owner wanted it presented,” Edwards said. “We were up until 2 a.m. working on our presentation.”

Early the next morning, the teams presented their assigned projects to the construction companies from around the country. After the presentations were over, students waited for the awards ceremony the next day.

Pharis said that after the competition was over he and his team felt confident in the project and presentation.

BYU student team posing with finished project.
BYU construction management students with their finished project. (Zach Harris)

Umstead was on the competition team that placed first. She shared that taking first was an incredible feeling especially after all of the hard work.

“I’ve always wanted to give something back to BYU and so being able to perform with my team to the best of our ability and represent well was like culminating awesomeness, ” Umstead said.

After the competition, students felt exhausted but grateful for the chance to participate and represent BYU. The students look forward to preparations for the competition next year.

“I am absolutely going to do competition next year,” Pharis said. “This year was my first year of doing competition and it has increased my understanding and has helped me in networking for the future.”

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