Construction management students test their craft

Members of a University team won a Rookie of the Year award at a national contest in January.

Construction Management leaders, left to right, Jackie Larson, Jeremiah Cunningham, and Tansey Cregan look at a subdivision layout of 441 homes that will be built in Frederick County, Maryland on Monday. The trio recently competed in the National Association of Housebuilders' annual home building event and won rookie of the year award.

Kathryn Chlystek

Construction Management leaders, left to right, Jackie Larson, Jeremiah Cunningham, and Tansey Cregan look at a subdivision layout of 441 homes that will be built in Frederick County, Maryland on Monday. The trio recently competed in the National Association of Housebuilders’ annual home building event and won rookie of the year award.

Isabella Murray

A group of University of Minnesota construction management students built upon their education by putting their skills to use outside of the classroom. 
 
 
Members of the University of Minnesota Construction Management team were awarded Rookie of the Year honors at the National Association of Home Builders’ annual Residential Construction Management Competition in Las Vegas in January. 
 
 
The competition is one of the largest in the country, and the University students were among students from 53 schools nationwide competing. They were ranked 15th out of the 34 teams in their section.
 
 
“I don’t want to say that we had low expectations going in, but the competition was very new to all of us. We really didn’t know what to expect, so our first time there we exceeded our expectations big time,” construction management senior Ross Giebel said. 
 
 
At the competition, students presented construction management proposals — which included construction cost estimates, construction schedules and project site layouts — based on prompts from the NAHB.
 
 
Despite notable competition, the team’s goal wasn’t first prize, faculty director of construction management Peter Hilger said.
 
 
“We didn’t know what to expect, so we were competing against the unknown. We didn’t know how to position ourselves,” Hilger said. 
 
 
While the conference focused on residential construction, the students’ experience lies primarily in commercial building, he said.
 
 
Many of the students in the program work in the industry while attending school. Hilger said they had difficulty finding students to join the team until it became a possible capstone project for students in the major. 
 
 
The University’s team was unique because many of the team members are seniors. 
 
 
“This is definitely the largest project we’ve ever done, with work totaling five months. I was interested in completing my education in a good way, and this put the cherry on top,” project executive Jeremiah Cunningham said.
 
 
The judging process was less intimidating than the team imagined, Giebel said. While six judges viewed the presentation, the small audience size eased their anxiety, he said.
 
 
“It was more comfortable presenting in front of the audience that we had. I was anticipating the worst, but I enjoyed the feel of it,” Giebel said. 
 
 
Despite the numerous temptations Las Vegas offers, the team maintained concentration and composure throughout the competition, Hilger said.
 
 
“It’s pretty hard for students to go to Vegas and focus on the competitions with all of the distractions, but they stayed huddled in their hotel room practicing, and they were really going after it like they wanted it. The celebrations waited until afterward,” Hilger said.