Ferris State University Construction Technology and Management students enjoyed a
unique opportunity. The students were successful in the virtual Associated Schools
of Construction Region 3 2020 Competition, completed on Saturday, Oct. 17.
Three Construction Technology and Management teams from Ferris won awards, with the design-build team repeating as champions in their category. A newly-established team for the electrical competition took top honors while the heavy civil participants earned Ferris third-place honors for a second straight year.
Mark Dyke, an alumnus of the Construction Technology and Management program and an assistant professor, said there was a week available for his team of four students from that program and two from the university’s Architecture program to develop their collaborative response in the Design-Build category.
“We would typically compete on-site in Downers Grove, Illinois, which is a significant commitment in its own right,” Dyke said. “Students attend seminars which are appropriate to their progress toward a degree, attend career fairs, while also participating in their competition. That is no small feat because our students have to keep up with their classes while attending the ASC Conference.”
Dyke said that his team of volunteers agreed to take part and met the safety protocols necessary to prepare for their problem statement from St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Company, Inc.
“Each day, they met in a room in the Granger Center after their day of classes, using social distancing appropriately while reviewing their project and taking my pointers on what to expect,” Dyke said. “I had one member on this year’s team, the team captain, who had to participate remotely due to potential COVID exposure. Just as he was preparing to re-join the team, the same issue presented itself, and he continued working with the rest of the team remotely.”
Dyke said coaches could not contact their team members while their project work is in progress, but may view the final presentation with the competition’s judges.
“They set up their response, regarding a proposal for a community center in Rogers, Arkansas, and had a Microsoft Teams meeting with their judges a week later,” Dyke said. “Though Ferris is essentially a smaller school in ASC competition, the team’s excellence was on display. The judges tried over and again to trip up these students in their presentation but could not produce any conflict or find any fault. Their score of 297, of a possible 300, is laudable, especially with the obstacle of remote participation and the team captain’s quarantine.”
The first-place prize of $1,000 for this Design-Build victory will benefit the Construction Technology and Management program. Other prize-winning teams included the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Cincinnati.
The Construction Technology and Management students succeeded in their first attempt in the Region 3 Electrical competition, taking top honors over Cal Polytechnic State University and Purdue University. Electrical Coach Brian Bejcek, an assistant professor of Construction Technology and Management, said he observed the 2019 conference, assembling a virtual competition team with hopes for good results.
“Though we came in with no experience in this competition, our students responded with excellence in this case,” Bejcek said. “Aldridge Electric, the competition’s sponsoring corporation from Libertyville, Illinois, offered a challenging project, and the team applied what they had learned in coursework and developed an excellent proposal.”
Bejcek, who joined the School of Built Environment faculty in 2017, was charged with revising the curriculum related to mechanical and electrical construction practices.
“The competition problem statement called for students to update electrical service for three Chicago subway stations,” Bejcek said. “The defining moment for Ferris’ team came from making use of each meeting opportunity with their judges that was afforded to them. Judges told us following the competition that our team was the only one that made that kind of commitment. I was able to watch their final presentation, which was very professional. It was a testament to the efforts they made in preparation for this virtual event.”
Chicago-based FH Paschen Construction sponsored the Heavy Civil competition, which Ferris participated in with Assistant Professor Jen Miller returning as the six-person team coach.
“The problem statement for our students was the demolition and reconstruction of a bridge over a major highway,” Miller said. “With the changes brought on by remote participation due to COVID, our team anticipated they would face an easier scenario. They quickly set about presenting a logical progression for each stage in the work that this project required.”
Miller noted a bond between her team members, though only one member of the 2019 Heavy Civil team had returned to compete in October.
“I feel that they met the challenges of operating as a team, making good use of the week available,” Miller said. “Perhaps not facing the compressed schedule of a trip to the ASC Conference allowed them to bond, and succeed.”
The students in the heavy civil competition’s third-place honors followed the University of Cincinnati’s top marks, with Michigan Technological University placing second.