Assistant Professors in the Building Construction Science Program, Tom Leathem and Masoud Gheisari, recently took a group of 13 students to Atlanta, Ga., to participate in the Associated Schools of Construction/Associated General Contractors (ASC/AGC) Region II Student Competition.
The competition consists of four categories – Design-Build, Commercial Construction, Heavy Civil Construction and Sustainability/LEED – each of which is sponsored by an industry partner who serve as project judges.
This is the third year that Mississippi State has competed in the competition. Last year, they competed in the Sustainability/LEED and Design-Build categories. This year, they again competed in Design-Build and added Commercial Construction.
MSU also had one student, Andrew Evans, participate in the shadow portion of the competition, which is set up for lower-level students to get exposed to the competition environment but starts with basic principles. In this competition, students are placed on teams with students from other schools at the competition, such as Clemson University, Auburn University, The University of Florida and Southern Polytechnic State University.
“The challenge there is that these students have to work with people they’ve never met before, and they only have five hours to do the entire project,” said Leathem.
Groups participating in the competition receive general information about the project a few months prior to the competition and are able to spend some time preparing for what they think they may encounter at the competition. The morning of the competition, the teams receive final project/problem details and have between 10-13 hours to work through the whole thing. Leathem said the work they do would typically take a contractor two weeks to a month to complete.
“The idea is to put students in a high-stress environment to mimic the real world of construction,” he said.
Students set up an “office” in hotel conference rooms and are sequestered there until the project is due that evening with access only to what they brought with them. After they submit a hard copy proposal, they begin working on a presentation for the next day.
“These students are usually up by 6 a.m. the day of the competition, and they’re not going to sleep until they’re done with their presentations the following day,” Leathem said.
Each group receives critiques and constructive feedback from the industry sponsors, and the top two teams in each category are announced at an awards banquet at the end of the second day of the competition.
Leathem said the competition is an excellent learning experience and a chance for students to connect with their peers in construction as well as network with industry partners.
“It taught me a lot that I am excited to be able to apply to my work in the studios,” said Savannah Harvey, a third-year BCS student.
BCS hopes to be able to continue to expand their impact at this competition and are looking for industry sponsors to help with the cost of entering the competition.
“Our goal and our hope,” said Leathem. “Is that in the near future, we will be entering full teams in every category.”