The students, who are pursuing degrees in technology management, construction management and design option in Southeast’s Department of Polytechnic Studies, competed against teams from colleges and universities in a seven-state region that included Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The competition was held Oct. 26- 29 in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and, according to Kevin McMeel, instructor in the Department of Polytechnic Studies, was hosted by “all the big names in the construction industry.”
This year, Southeast entered two teams, one in the “Design-Build” division, and one in the “Commercial” division. The Design-Build team, coached by Bryan Bowers, instructor in polytechnic studies, included: Leah Crossno of Poplar Bluff, Missouri; Steven Pierce of Florissant, Missouri; Brennan Reeves of Jackson, Missouri; Sam Pourcillie of St. Albans, Missouri; Jorden Richardson of St. Charles, Missouri; and Drew Shores of Centralia, Illinois. The commercial team, coached by McMeel, included Michael Eitel of Ballwin, Missouri; Tim Schumer of Perryville, Missouri; Justin Stilley of Murphysboro, Illinois; Zach Ericson of St. Charles, Missouri; Garrison West of Edwardsville, Illinois; and Jeremy Engelhart of Jackson, Missouri.
The students were given a basic scope for their respective projects in advance so they could research appropriate designs, site logistics, costs and schedules for a similar project. This was done in a class format which tied together all of the skills they have been learning in the construction management and design program. The specifics of the design project, however, were not revealed to the teams until after they arrived and the competition had begun. The Design-Build team had to develop a design and estimate construction costs for a California Highway Patrol facility. The Commercial Division had to estimate the cost for a new police station. The Design-Build team claimed the third place award.
“We are incredibly proud of the performance of our teams!” said McMeel. “We probably have the newest and smallest construction management program in our region, so to match up against schools with much larger and more established programs is quite an accomplishment for these students,” he said.
In addition to the experience the students receive through competition, placing near the top in the competition means better career opportunities for them as well.
“We came in third against schools with programs 10 times larger than ours — schools like Iowa State and Kansas State. We are now known as one of the best construction management programs in our seven state region, and top contractors have recognized the skill level of our students,” McMeel said.
A career fair follows the regional competition, and Southeast students have been hired in past years after performing well. Large construction companies are now recruiting Southeast students, attending campus events like the Southeast Career Expo held every year in October.
“About half of the students on last year’s teams received job offers from companies who were at the competition, and we anticipate this year’s teams will have comparable results. Top contractors have recognized our students and have hired them as a direct result of this competition,” said McMeel. “That’s the ultimate goal of our program — to prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed in the field of construction management and design. We want employers to seek our students. This success at the regional competition will help make that happen.”