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Construction management students compete nationally

A team of students from Pennsylvania College of Technology recently traveled to Texas, making it through all three rounds of the 2022 Student Chapter Construction Management Competition for an overall seventh-place finish.

Competing as one of 14 teams at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, the centerpiece of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ annual convention, the Penn College contingent was challenged to assume the role of a general contractor/construction-manager-at-risk for construction of a five-story office building in Austin’s central business district.

Pennsylvania College of Technology's entry in the Associated Builders and Contractors' 2022 Student Chapter Construction Management Competition, held in mid-March in San Antonio, reconvene for a team photo outside the college's Klump Academic Center. Clockwise from front left are Danielle E. Malesky, of Biglerville; Cody J. Smith, of Honesdale; Conor B. Laraia, of Chambersburg; Mike R. Miller, of Montgomery; and Rudy C. Shadle, of Mechanicsburg.
Pennsylvania College of Technology’s entry in the Associated Builders and Contractors’ 2022 Student Chapter Construction Management Competition, held in mid-March in San Antonio, reconvene for a team photo outside the college’s Klump Academic Center. Clockwise from front left are Danielle E. Malesky, of Biglerville; Cody J. Smith, of Honesdale; Conor B. Laraia, of Chambersburg; Mike R. Miller, of Montgomery; and Rudy C. Shadle, of Mechanicsburg.

Teammates, all of them members of the Penn College Construction Management Association and enrolled in the college’s four-year construction management major, were Rudy C. Shadle, of Mechanicsburg, captain; Conor B. Laraia, of Chambersburg; Danielle E. Malesky, of Biglerville; Cody J. Smith, of Honesdale; and Mike R. Miller, of Montgomery, alternate.

“The trip was a great experience,” said Wayne R. Sheppard, department head and assistant professor of construction management, who traveled with the team by RV – a trip that included a blizzard in Memphis and a tornado warning at a Kentucky campground. “This is a tough competition where small details can make big differences. The team fully committed to putting in the time and working through all of the challenges. I was very happy with their presentation; they did a great job. They also have many memories that will last a lifetime.”

The students (who worked continuously on campus since receiving the request for proposals in January) advanced through each phase of the competition, from initial submission … to processing change orders … to making a final presentation to a packed ballroom of judges, spectators and other schools’ representatives. A team from Colorado State University took home the highest honors from the three-day competition.

“I was able to learn just how intense the industry can be when planning for a construction project, thinking through methods for constructing the job and mitigating all major risks associated with it,” Shadle said, noting that the project required the team to consider the most critical areas of construction so that it could complete a full proposal for the judging committee/owner.

“Prior to being given the project, we had preplanning meetings – such as a real company would do – where we decided who would be responsible for each part and who would lead those efforts to keep the team on track. Learning early on how to delegate and time-manage were big factors in completing the project on time and to the best of our abilities,” said Shadle, who is scheduled to graduate in May. “Throughout this experience, I gained the ability to think through a whole construction project, from the small details to big picture, and really see what my future could hold in store for me while gaining additional experience to jump-start my career.”

“My key takeaway from this experience is that, no matter your experience in construction, there is always more to learn and explore because a new challenge will be thrown at you every day when you least expect it,” the team captain added. “Even with the long hours and stressful days, this competition gave our team so much great experience that we can build from to better understand the extensive world of construction.”

The 2002 chair of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ national board of directors meets with Penn College construction management students during the convention. From left are Miller; Laraia; ABC’s Stephanie Schmidt, president of Poole Anderson Construction in State College; Malesky; and Shadle. (Smith was called home for a family emergency.)
The 2002 chair of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ national board of directors meets with Penn College construction management students during the convention. From left are Miller; Laraia; ABC’s Stephanie Schmidt, president of Poole Anderson Construction in State College; Malesky; and Shadle. (Smith was called home for a family emergency.)
Taking a rare break from fine-tuning their proposal (from left) are Malesky, Laraia and Shadle.
Taking a rare break from fine-tuning their proposal (from left) are Malesky, Laraia and Shadle.

Malesky, a junior, said it was “a huge privilege” to represent her school at the ABC competition – the first attended by a Penn College team since 2015.

“It presented the opportunity to interact and bond with individuals who might not have crossed paths otherwise. I had so much fun; from start to finish, it was an adventure. We got to learn in real time how a real-world jobsite works. The entire preconstruction thought process needed to be carefully worked through as a team.”

“I’m grateful for all the team members, the opportunity, the experience, but most of all for the memories,” she said. “It was an amazing time!”

For more about Penn College’s construction management major in the School of Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos provided by Wayne R. Sheppard

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