Construction management team claims regional title

Graphic by Corey Beaudrie

The UAA Construction Management competition team has just achieved nationwide recognition, and picked up similarly large bragging rights.

The group consists of seven upperclassmen UAA students in the Construction Management program. This year they took first place in the 24th Annual ASC Regions 6 & 7 Student Competition, under the Commercial Construction category. This competition is one of the largest construction management student competitions in the nation: 173 teams entered from 43 universities, and over 1,100 students from 18 different states competed.

With that in mind, the fact that seven individuals took the championship from such a large mass of construction management students is an impressive feat. Especially considering several schools, such as Colorado State University–the titleholder for the past four years–had over 15 teams representing their college. That’s more students than UAA’s entire Construction Management program combined.

Eleven other teams were entered into the same category as UAA, including CSU, Arizona State, Brigham Young University, and Boise State. All teams featured talented and dedicated competitors, intensifying the stakes of the competition.

After nearly four months of preparation, UAA teammates Jason Richards, Jed Shandy, Will Moran, Sean Rafter, Rachael Chamberlain, Jamie Smith and Mack Pennington all convened in Reno on Feb. 15th. After a day of settling in, chatting with construction business members, and attending a dinner featuring several keynote speakers, the team turned in at a relatively early bedtime of two AM to prepare for the next day’s lengthy competition.

The team received their assignment four hours later.  Their task was to design and lay out the details and specifications for a sports complex in Kent, Washington. This included the management, safety, and quality control plans of the complex, in addition to a detailed schedule and cost estimate of construction. The maximum price cap was set at $58 million. The team was also responsible for a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation that basically stated why their plan was the best. They had 15 hours to complete everything.

Cue intense amounts of stress and sleeplessness on the day of the 17th.

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“Things were definitely a rush,” said Jason Richards, a senior in the Construction Management program. “But what really helped our group succeed was the amount of team chemistry we all had, where everyone was able to work out their specific tasks and also build off each other’s ideas. It was definitely a great team effort.”

It also helped that the group injected a little humor into the competition.

“One of the things I think that defined our team throughout the course of the day was that we had the TV on while we were sitting there working, so that we could keep a little chatter going while we were working. We had a couple soap operas playing, Tyra Banks, Judge Judy, just to make this relaxed atmosphere that really helped us focus in,” said Richards.

At the end of the day, after churning out sub analysis, guaranteed maximum price spreadsheets, concrete takeoff estimates, integrated work management plans, and site logistics plans for the 9 pm deadline, the team had nothing left to do but set up their PowerPoint presentation for the following morning and hope that all the hard work hadn’t been for naught.

Turns out it wasn’t.

Not only was their project over 90 percent aligned with the actual competition numbers, with some of their logistics coming within .037 percent of the ideal set, UAA’s Construction Management team beat out the third place Colorado State and the second place Northern Arizona by a large amount.

“We were spot on, with every aspect of the competition,” said Rachael Chamberlain, a senior.

With all that tension and anxiety building up through the course of the day, and the months of preparation beforehand, the team was able to let loose at this point.

“So they go to announce the first place team, and they say, ‘And nailing it on all six of the categories is the University of Alaska Anchorage,’ and at that point we just lost it,” said Richards.

The fact that UAA has finally achieved a first place standing in the Regional Championship—they took second two years ago—really helps boost the credibility of the Construction Management program, increasing its chance to become an accredited division.

Things wouldn’t have been possible without the teams’ coaches, Peter Dedych and Donn Ketner, who assisted the group throughout the entire time period and traveled with them to Reno.

“We have to give an endless amount of gratitude to Pete and Donn,” said Will Moran, a UAA junior. “They’ve been with us since the beginning, and really were the gel that kept everything together. We owe them uncountable debts.”

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