BGSU construction management teams take top honors at regional builders competition

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – As the only university in Ohio where architecture and construction management majors routinely learn together, Bowling Green State University prepares students in its School of the Built Environment for in-demand careers through collaborative, experiential learning. Recently, a group of students put their education and skills to the test, earning major awards at the 2024 New Builders Estimating Competition.

BGSU students have competed in the event since 2014 and this year’s first-place finish by the heavy/civil estimating team and second-place results by the residential estimating team marked the best showing ever for teams from the School of the Built Environment.

“The strong showing exemplifies the students’ attention to detail, teamwork, working on real-life projects and submitting proposals according to industry standards. This in itself demonstrates that our School of the Built Environment students are working in real-life scenarios, under the guidance of industry professionals and faculty that bring many years of experience to the table for the students and their learning of the industry,” said Assistant Teaching Professor Lisa Schaller. “Our students are acquiring strong industry relationships and knowledge at an earlier level of their education that classroom studies alone cannot facilitate.”

The New Builders Competition was held at the University of Cincinnati on Feb. 16-17, and five total universities competed in events in three tracks: heavy/civil, residential and commercial.

The five-student teams gained exposure to the construction and development industry by developing a business plan for a real project and employing skills such as site and project design, estimating, safety planning, project management, market analysis and business planning.

The heavy/civil estimating team of Max Eaton, Nate Bailey, Danny Witcher, Ellie Berry and Kalyn Johnson had an outstanding performance, winning first place in their track. Their team was advised by industry mentors Chris Wagler, Jared Houtz and Hailey Stowers with Kokosing Construction Company, who lent their expertise to help propel the heavy/civil team to the top.

Team captain Eaton said the competition fostered teamwork and taught the students real-world lessons.

“We all came in with different backgrounds in construction. We had to learn how to come together and work out every step the best we could,” Eaton said. “I learned how to make an RFP bid packet, and I learned that it takes way more than most people think when it comes to construction and the process – from the time of making a bid until they see us on site breaking ground to start the job.”

The second-place residential estimating team was made up of Samantha Shara, Jordan Myers, Alex Tillia, Jacob Rentas and Joe Butcher, and was advised by industry mentor JP Ankney with Gulfstream Development. This was the first time BGSU took a residential team to this competition.

Schaller said the teams spend about 40 hours outside of the classroom working together on the New Builders project, and during that time, they are also learning from mentors who lend expertise on processes and proposal building.

The experience leading up to the competition is beneficial, she said, because students gain relevant industry knowledge even before their first co-ops and this enhances their classroom studies.

“They gain knowledge from their industry mentors during this project as well as real-world field experience,” Schaller said.

In addition, Schaller said the industry mentors become familiar with the students’ working skills and many of the students complete a co-op or internship with them and make connections with future mentors in the process.

The annual New Builders Estimating Competition is open to institutions in Ohio that offer degree programs in engineering and/or construction management. BGSU has a full complement of accredited engineering and construction management programs housed in the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering.

The University’s construction management program is one of only four in Ohio and 73 nationwide that are accredited by the Accreditation of Construction Education (ACCE), and job placement for BGSU students is at 100% after graduation.

“I chose to study construction management here because I felt at home with the campus and felt that the program fit me best compared to other schools,” Eaton said. “BGSU has helped significantly in my career development through co-ops and how friendly and approachable everyone in the School of Built Environment is. Bringing in industry professionals really gives us an idea of what's happening in the field, while also helping us build valuable connections for the future.”

Dr. Arsenio Rodrigues, director of the School of the Built Environment, hailed the strong connections and support cultivated among the school, alumni and industry partners.

"The faculty, staff and students in the School of the Built Environment are thankful for the consistent support, commitment and mentorship provided by our distinguished alumni and industry advisory board,” Rodrigues said. “This unique partnership between the school and our industry partners seeks to provide valuable resources to advance the Department of Construction Management, guide curriculum to adapt and evolve with the latest trends and needs of the construction industry and connect a network of industry leaders with past, present, and future students.”

The BGSU School of the Built Environment is housed in Kokosing Hall, a state-of-the-art facility that exposes students to situations, technologies and experiences that they will encounter in real-world roles through coursework. Opened in 2023, the facility itself was made possible by a transformative gift from Kokosing Inc. headquartered in Westerville, Ohio.

Updated: 02/22/2024 01:13PM