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‘Student Chapter of Excellence’ Finishes Strong in National Event

Construction management students at Pennsylvania College of Technology who traveled to San Diego for a national competition are%3A front row, from left, Nicholas J. Colaric, Eighty Four%3B Dean T. Bell, Schwenksville%3B John M. Kriner, Lancaster%3B and Tomasz Jezowski. Back row, from left, are Blake E. Smith, Hanover%3B John I. Ortels, Garnet Valley%3B and Ryan J. Catena, Cranberry Township.Seven members of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Construction Management Association representing the smallest institution among the 23 colleges and universities at the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. national competition in San Diego recently returned with four awards including Student Chapter of Excellence honors.

Penn College finished fifth overall and placed first in safety and third in project management/scheduling during the ABC Student Chapter Construction Management Competition held during the association’s Feb. 3-7 convention. CMA also was named a Student Chapter of Excellence.

Four-member teams competed head-to-head in three areas: project management/scheduling, estimating and safety. Awards were given in each category, as well as an overall award for highest total points.

Participating construction management students were Dean T. Bell, Schwenksville; Ryan J. Catena, Cranberry Township; Nicholas J. Colaric, Eighty Four; Tomasz Jezowski, Morrisville; John M. Kriner, Lancaster; John I. Ortels, Garnet Valley; and Blake E. Smith, Hanover. They were accompanied by Wayne R. Sheppard, assistant professor of construction management.

The competition challenge this year involved a request for proposals for a high-end 12-story hotel in the early design stages, with a large focus on the general conditions and fees. The judges further emphasized the scheduling, site utilization and safety portions of the project.

Four members of Penn College's Construction Management Association are dwarfed by the USS Midway aircraft carrier during their visit to San Diego.“Overall, the competition forced students to look at the project through different perspectives and created many opportunities for learning and broadening of experience, which is at the core of why these events are so beneficial,” said Sheppard, the group’s faculty adviser.

The students began working on the project weeks in advance, making adjustments as logistics and other considerations required them to quickly shift focus and find alternate solutions.

“The final round of the competition was a question-and-answer format this year, more back and forth instead of prepared presentation,” said Colaric, who faced the industry judges along with teammates Bell, Jezowski and Smith. “We had to defend our approach to the project, including our management, scheduling, estimating and safety plans. There were about 10 rounds of addendums during the competition; they just kept throwing site changes at us.”

Colaric, Jezowski and Bell are veterans of the competition, at which Penn College historically has fared well. It has been in the top 10 since first competing in 2004, and CMA twice was named Student Chapter of the Year (in 2008 and 2009) before grabbing second-place chapter honors this year.

“ABC’s Student Chapters Construction Management Competition gives the nation’s top construction management students a real-life scenario,” said Jim Elmer, of James W. Elmer Construction Co. in Spokane, Wash., this year’s ABC national chairman. “Students are challenged to use what they have been learning in the classroom and apply it in a high-stress environment, similar to what they will face when they enter the industry.”

The latest competition focused on the Hotel Indigo, built by ABC member firm Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and visited by Penn College students during their stay. In addition to many professional development opportunities during the convention, the students made the most of being in San Diego by touring the USS Midway aircraft carrier and going to the San Diego Zoo.

For more information about the School of Construction and Design Technologies, visit online or call 570-327-4518. For more about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos provided by Wayne R. Sheppard, assistant professor of construction management and Construction Management Association adviser

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