Two teams of students from the Drexel University Construction Management Program traveled to Morristown, NJ on November 12-14, 2015 to participate in the Region 1 Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) competition. They returned with two first place finishes in a highly competitive field and ushered in a new era of Drexel dominance at the competition. Region 1 encompasses schools from Maine to Northern Virginia and 19 colleges and universities from across the region competed in three categories: Design-Build, Heavy/Civil and Commercial Building. Drexel fielded teams in the Heavy/Civil and Commercial Building categories. The ASC competition problems are sponsored by construction companies who serve as the judges of the work the students complete. J.F. White of Framingham, Massachusetts, led the Heavy/Civil problem and Lecesse Construction of West Henrietta, NY, the Commercial Building problem.
Each team consisted of six students, ranging from pre-juniors to seniors, who began preparing for the competition in early August, prior to the start of the term. The Heavy/Civil team, captained by Sean Smith, included team members Fred Langezaal, Sam Masters, Jason DeMatt, Zach Heisler and Joe Georgio. This team was defending their first place finish in 2014 and did so with an even stronger performance according to the J.F. White judges. The Commercial Building team, captained by Chris Neal, included team members David Senko, Liz Passmore, Will Harris, Glenna Visco and Julia Colyar. They were looking to improve from their second place finish in 2014 and they did so in grand style, eclipsing the competition with their presentation.
The competition occurs over two grueling days of work. Teams received their problem statements at 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning with an 11:00 p.m. deadline to complete the work required by the sponsor. The commercial project was the construction of a new independent living unit within an existing senior living facility in upstate New York, while the heavy civil team faced a rail and utility expansion project on the Green Line in Boston. The teams have the day to digest the plans and specs and complete the work required to meet the demands of the judges. Standard components of the submissions include an estimate, a schedule, an analysis of means and methods, logistics and analysis of specialized construction operations such as support of excavations and facility tie-ins.
Upon completion of the written portion of the problem, the students shift their focus to the development of an oral presentation in which they present their solutions to a panel of industry judges who actually worked on or are currently working on the project. The students must submit their presentation materials at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and then the order of the presentations is determined. The Commercial Building team presented their solution first in a field of 16 and according to the Lecesse judges, they set the bar for the rest of the competition. The Heavy/Civil team presented second in their field of nine competitors and fielded a grueling round of questions from the judges like seasoned veterans.
The hard work and dedication of the students led them to the first place victory, but they did not get there on their own. Each team was mentored by industry professionals who volunteered their time and resources to assist the teams. The Heavy/Civil team was mentored by Gordon Bryan, Jeremy Holsinger and Keith Thompson of Allan Myers and Patrick Morrow and Robert Nye from Utility Line Services Corp. The Commercial Building team was mentored by Professor Doug Carney, as well as Jeremy Samet and Nathan Dennis from Target Building Construction. The team also completed a site visit to the Shannondell at Valley Forge construction site as the guests of James Sorom of Shannondell, Steve Risk of Paul Risk Associates and Daniel Lynch of Audubon Land Development Corp. Rounding out the list of volunteer mentors was Edward Keeter, Ph.D. former professor and coach of the Commercial Building team who is now teaching at Philadelphia University. Both teams were coached by Christine Fiori, Ph.D.