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Legislature Honors College’s National-Champion Construction Team

Holding their first-place trophy and plaque are members of Pennsylvania College of Technology%E2%80%99s national championship team of construction students. From left are Brandt D. Hey and Brent K. Hey, of Chambersburg%3B Thomas M. Whitehouse, of Bethlehem%3B and Shane A. Beckner, also of Chambersburg.A team of two-year students from Pennsylvania College of Technology’s School of Construction and Design Technologies, first-place winners at this year’s National Association of Home Builders Residential Construction Management Competition, recently was honored by the Pennsylvania Senate for its accomplishment.

Comprising the championship team, coached by Barney A. Kahn, instructor of building construction technology, are Thomas M. Whitehouse, of Bethlehem; and Brandt D. Hey, Brent K. Hey and Shane A. Beckner, all of Chambersburg. Whitehouse and the Hey brothers are enrolled in residential construction technology and management: building construction technology concentration; Beckner is majoring in building science and sustainable design: architectural technology concentration.

“The members of the Pennsylvania College of Technology School of Construction and Design Technologies Team are truly deserving of recognition and praise for their exceptional ability, diligence and tenacious pursuit of excellence,” reads the congratulatory document, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway II (who represents the students’ home 33rd Senatorial District) and Sen. Gene Yaw (a member of the college’s Board of Directors whose 23rd District includes Penn College). “Therefore, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania heartily congratulates the (team) upon its first-place finish (and) offers best wishes for continued success in all future endeavors.”

Held during the 2011 International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., the competition required the students to develop a complete set of working drawings, a detailed labor-and-materials estimate, a complete construction schedule and change orders for an environmentally responsible home to be built in Hamptonville, N.C.

“Each team is allowed to have five people and we only had four, so, to get all of this work done and receive first place was huge,” Whitehouse said. “The judges also noted that our detailed estimate was the best. We were very proud to represent Pennsylvania and our school.”

Brigham Young University placed second in the two-year competition; North Dakota State College of Science finished third.

“We believe that this was the best real-world experience a student can get for our major and our trade,” said Whitehouse, who served as project manager and senior estimator for the team. “We knew what it took and how hard we had to work to win. We spent countless hours on estimates, change orders and drawings to come up with our packet for this year. We also spent countless hours reviewing and making changes to our final packet before sending them in for judging.”

Team members completed all of the estimating and scheduling themselves, he added, noting that no software was used in the calculations.

Legislative congratulations are accorded in this official recognition, sponsored by Sens. Richard Alloway II and Gene Yaw.“We, as a team, made sure that we knew our specifications and all additional information from change orders to green-building verification documents, so we could answer all questions that the judges put before us,” Whitehouse explained. “We wanted to make this as real as we could make it, and knowing the project in and out makes for a better and smooth building process.

“Going into our presentation we knew that we did the best that we could, and that we were up against some tough competition. After the presentation, not only were we relieved it was all over, but we had a strong feeling that the judges liked our product. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Brandt Hey, whose roles were junior estimator and scheduler, said the competition gave him a greater appreciation of the order in which building tasks must occur.

“Before being involved with the competition team, I had a fairly good understanding of how a house was built,” he said. “However, being the scheduler “¦ forced me to build the entire house from start to finish “˜in my mind,’ which is something that I had never done in its entirety.

“I think that the competition helped me not only to realize the amount of work, time and energy that it takes to estimate and schedule an entire house for a potential customer, but it also enabled me to experience some real-world interaction requesting material quotes from building-material suppliers.”

When he signed on for the task, Brandt said he knew Penn College had fared well in the past and he didn’t want to pass up a role in continuing that tradition.

“Prior to the International Builders Show, I had joked during some of our team meetings about getting first place in the competition,” he said, “but actually hearing the officials announce Penn College for first-place winner in the two-year division was quite astounding.”

The main contribution from his brother, Brent, was as the “green’ verification analyst and change-order specialist.

“Basically, my job was to determine what we could do to make the house reach both the Silver and Emerald levels in the National Green Building Standard,” he said. “Things like making the house’s water consumption more efficient, as well as researching green materials that take less energy to produce while using building methods that reduce the amount of on-site material waste.”

As the team’s architect, Beckner expanded on the original drawings, recreated the foundation and floor plans, added the rest of the basic working drawings from wall sections to elevations then put them all into the final presentation packet.

“I really enjoyed being part of this team and I feel that I gained a lot from being a part of it,” he said. “Not just because we won first place, but because I got to see what it would be like in a real-life situation. Also I got to see more on the side of the contractor what goes on in the construction process and not just seeing the point of view of the architect.

“All in all, it was a great experience and I wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Members of the four-year team pose for a photo with coach Garret L. Graff (right). From left are Michaele C. Incontro, Zachary T. McAllister, Erin M. Smith, Nicholas R. Forrester, Caleb J. Baechtle and Michael J. Buchalski.A team of four-year construction students also competed in Orlando. Coached by Garret L. Graff, assistant professor of building construction technology, they were Zachary T. McAllister, East Berlin; Michael J. Buchalski, West Milford, N.J.; Michaele C. Incontro, Alpine, N.J.; Erin M. Smith, South Williamsport; Caleb J. Baechtle, Dillsburg; and Nicholas R. Forrester, Marlton, N.J.

The top finishers among four-year teams were Cal Poly, first; Middle Tennessee State University, second; and Brigham Young, third.

The teams, both of which represented the Penn College Construction Association with financial and moral support from the Pennsylvania Builders Association and the West Branch Susquehanna Builders Association were among 50 representing universities, community colleges, high schools and career technical schools that participated in the competition.

For information about majors in the School of Construction and Design Technologies, visit online or call 570-327-4513.

For more information about Penn College, visit on the Web , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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