CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 28, 2015 – Six students in the Construction Management Organization (CMo) at Southeast Missouri State University took second place at the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Competition in Nebraska City, Nebraska, Oct. 21-24.
Southeast competed in ASC’s Region 4, which comprises 18 member schools in seven states from Missouri north through the Dakotas. Competition took place in four divisions: Commercial Building, Design-Build, Heavy-Civil and Specialty (Electrical). The competition showcases some of the country’s top students.
These six students are a part of the commercial division team of CMo and are: Jared Bush-Howe of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri; Matt Gehrs of Festus, Missouri; Tim Schumer of Perryville, Missouri; Brendan Shea of Cuba, Missouri; Nick Staebel of St. Louis, Missouri; and Mark Webb of Saint Mary, Missouri.
“This competition has been one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors of my life,” said Gehrs, a senior majoring in construction management and design. “However, I have learned so much, and I am incredibly proud of our second place achievement.”
Out of 600 possible points, the Southeast team placed second with 503.95 points, Iowa State University placed first with 555.7 points and North Dakota State University took third place with 499.5 points.
ASC is an association of colleges and universities that have a construction education program, typically construction management or construction engineering, according to Kevin McMeel, instructor of Polytechnic Studies at Southeast and one of the coaches of CMo along with Bryan Bowers.
“The competition is ‘real world’ experience for the students, and basically replicates a typical four-week construction project bidding cycle, but compresses it into 18 hours,” said McMeel.
Approximately one month before the competition, ASC releases a problem statement to the team, giving the members a general idea of what they will be working on at the contest. In preparation for the competition, the team spends the first part of the fall semester going over the problem statement, practicing presentation skills, and getting to know each team member.
According to McMeel, students competing do not receive the actual problem until the morning of the competition, and they have to submit their bid, or solution, to the judges by midnight the same day.
“Once they get the actual problem, they can have no contact with the coaches or the ‘outside world’. They have to be prepared to do everything and to have all of the tools (computers, software, printers, etc.) that they need,” said McMeel.
The ASC competition allowed the CMo students to practice their skills they have acquired on campus and in the classroom to a real-world situation.
“Although our Construction Management and Design program is, I think, the smallest and the newest (started in 2004) in our region, through this competition we are making a name for ourselves (CMo and Southeast) by our solid showings,” says McMeel. “It’s kind of cool to know that faculty from distant places like University of Nebraska – Kearney, and Minnesota State – Moorhead actually know about Southeast.”
This is not only a place students can go and compete but also a place where students can demonstrate their skills to possible future employers.
“Even more importantly, each division competition is sponsored by one or more industry sponsors, companies that are “heavy hitters” in the construction industry,” said McMeel. “This allows our students to demonstrate their knowledge and ability in front of potential employers. At the career fair right before the awards ceremony, the students can talk to the companies, many of whom have already seen the students in action. So this competition is not just a trophy-related, bragging-rights competition, it is something that will help the students achieve their career goals – not just by performance, but through networking within the industry.”
The students are very grateful for the chance to do so.
“I owe a great deal to Southeast in the education I have earned through this great construction department and through these competitions,” said Gehrs. “I will not forget and will serve as a support mechanism for future teams to come.”
Along with the commercial division team, students making up the design-build division team at Southeast competed at the ASC competition as well and placed fourth.