Friday, January 28, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

Every year, the collegiate construction management community engages in a battle royal organized by the Associated Schools of Construction. Now in its 24th year, the ASC student competition is the largest of its kind in the world, and Boise State University is a major player.

The Broncos compete in Reno, Nevada, facing schools from Region 6 (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) as well as open category contenders such as Auburn and Virginia Tech. In 2010, the Reno battlefield welcomed more than 1,200 students on 160 teams from 41 universities in 17 states.

Among this massive pool from top Western schools including Arizona State, Colorado State and BYU, Boise State's construction management students took second place in three categories — Design Build, Commercial and Heavy Civil — with Risk Management placing third. But glory isn't the only draw. The event includes a massive job fair, with dozens of companies on hand to scope next-generation talent.

When it comes to talent, Boise State's CM department is flush. The past few years of the Reno competition have proven it, not to mention consecutive national honors in 2008 and 2009 as the top student chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America for meaningful contributions made in the community.

Even for such stellar students, the Reno competition is a serious challenge demanding serious brains, guts and endurance. It already has involved months of planning and prepping with faculty advisors and professional mentors, and the event itself will be a sleepless, lightning-paced race. After receiving their problem statements and accompanying specifications, plans, data and proposal criteria at 6 a.m. on the day of the competition, teams will have less than 24 hours to develop solutions, which generally include means and methods, planning, costs, staffing, safety and sustainability considerations. The industry-sponsored competition “problems” are based on actual construction projects and judged by professionals.

“The competition is a tremendous experience for our CM students. Each problem requires them to synthesize a variety of construction management areas, exercise their teaming and leadership skills, and deliver a comprehensive solution for an authentic scenario under extreme time constraints,” said Tony Songer, chair of the CM Department.

And what do the students say? Caffeine is your friend.

Leading up to and during the 2011 competition (starting at the crack of dawn on Thursday, Feb. 17), this blog will be your play-by-play. While Boise State is sending tough teams (on TWO huge buses) that span multiple competition categories, the experience will be seen mostly through the eyes of the Heavy Civil team. These are the future managers of projects to build roads, bridges, dams and other major structures that make civilization what it is. With last year's second place win in their hands, they're looking forward to a chance at the top regional honor and a guaranteed trip to nationals.

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