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Penn College Team Wins First Place in Builders’ Competition

At the International Builders Show are, from left, Pennsylvania College of Technology President Davie Jane Gilmour and members of the college%E2%80%99s national champion team of two-year construction students%3A Bryan T. Hay, Bradford E. Ickes, Louis A. 'Chip' Rizzo III, Cory M. Mills and Wesley R. Hazelett.A team of students enrolled in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s two-year construction majors earned top prize in competition at the recent National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show in Florida, the college’s third first-place finish in that category in the past five years.

Members of the two-year team are Bryan T. Hay, Friedens; Wesley R. Hazelett, Lake Ariel; Bradford E. Ickes, Somerset; Cory M. Mills, Harrisburg; and Louis A. “Chip” Rizzo III, Sugarloaf. Mills is an architectural technology student; the others major in building construction technology.

In addition to the first-place honors at the competition, held Feb. 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Penn College received Silver Award recognition for 10 years of competition by its two-year teams a decade that included two second-place finishes and three third prizes.

A group of students in four-year majors made the trip, as well, finishing a solid 13th out of more than two dozen entries: Hilary J. Allegretto, Williamsport, and Thomas J. Wisse, Hackettstown, N.J., both majoring in residential construction technology and management: architectural technology; Seth L. Culbert, Quakake, Matthew S. Divok, Quakertown, and George A. King, Lancaster, all enrolled in residential construction technology and management; and Phillip D. Hannah, Girard, a civil engineering technology major in the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies.

Members of Penn College's team of four-year students in national competition gather in Orlando with their advisers. From left%3A Thomas J. Wisse%3B Bernard A. 'Barney' Kahn, Penn College Construction Association adviser%3B George A. King%3B Matthew S. Divok%3B Phillip D. Hannah%3B Seth L. Culbert%3B Hilary J. Allegretto%3B and Garret Graff, co-adviser. Kahn and Graff also are instructors of building construction technology at Penn College.Allegretto, Culbert and Wisse were returnees from the prior year’s competition, and Divok was a member of two- and four-year teams in past years. Divok received a “Outstanding Student Award” as one of 25 competitors honored for grade-point average, years of service to the student chapter and interest in pursuing a residential-building career.

Each of the groups was assigned a residential project sponsored by Pulte Homes, one of the nation’s premier new homebuilders, and centered in the Orlando area’s upscale Berkshire Park development. The exercises, which approximate real-world circumstances in the construction industry right down to change orders that necessitate 11th -hour reconfiguration give students the opportunity to apply the skills learned in the classroom.

“We would like to say that it was a team effort,” the students said in a joint statement upon their return, continuing the united front that marked their performance in competition. “We collectively spent more than 1,000 hours working to perfect the packet for Pulte Homes’ Princetown Project at Berkshire Park. The presentation went very well on Wednesday, but the suspense until the awards ceremony on Friday evening was very intense.”

The teams were joined at their presentations by Davie Jane Gilmour, Penn College president, and Walt Nyman, the college’s director of general services and an executive officer of the West Branch Susquehanna Builders Association. The association is a longtime financial supporter of the Penn College Construction Association, the NAHB student chapter whose members competed at the builders’ show.

“We beat Brigham Young University, which was our No. 1 goal,” the group continued, “and we walked away with the national championship.” BYU teams captured the top two spots among associate-degree teams in 2007, the only institution to do better than Penn College.

BYU-Idaho finished third in this year’s two-year competition; Utah Valley State College was second. The top three finishers among teams of baccalaureate students were Arizona State University, first; BYU, second; and Middle Tennessee State University, third.

“It is a great feeling to bring a victorious end to five months of hard work! Nothing made us happier than to bring the trophy back to Penn College,” members of the two-year team commented. “Participating in this competition has required an extreme amount of perseverance, dedication and motivation. We are all thankful to have had the opportunity to apply our education beyond our required course work. This experience has been very rewarding becoming nationally recognized for our efforts.”

The students were accompanied by Bernard A. “Barney” Kahn, PCCA adviser, and Garret Graff, co-adviser, both of whom are instructors of building construction technology in the college’s School of Construction and Design Technologies. The teams thanked them and their faculty colleagues for aiding their success, as well as noting the encouragement they received from a number of other students, mentors and supporters.

The students returned in time to help staff the West Branch Susquehanna Builders Association Home Show, held Feb. 28-March 2 at the Lycoming College Recreation Center.

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

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