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Engineering News Spring 2016

Win, Win, Win!

Recently, 21 SCU civil engineering students and their coach, Assistant Professor Hisham Said, joined an intense battle—the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Student Construction Competitions—transforming their hotel room into a makeshift project meeting room like you might find in a construction trailer. Over two days, they mobilized to compete in three contests: Design Build, Determining Project Risk (DPR), and Mixed-Use Projects.

The students put their analytical and problem-solving skills put to the test, focusing their attention on customer requirements, scheduling, cost estimates, and the myriad details that go into a construction project. Most intense was the DPR contest. Students were first tasked with identifying risks, negotiating contracts, assigning subcontractors, and so on. Then they had to respond to a number of scenarios: archeological relics found onsite, subcontractors suddenly out of business, materials unavailable…

Hectic hardly begins to describe the atmosphere. More than 1,300 students from 20-plus West Coast and mountain region universities feverishly attacked the problems presented from construction companies' actual portfolios, then submitted their proposals and presented their solutions to a panel of industry judges.

"Following the presentations, recruiters often stand right outside the doors, giving out their business cards or handing out offers," Said reported, "so it’s a win, win, win. Students get to put their skills to work on real-life projects, schools market their programs, and employers see potential hires in action." This year SCU's team also brought home three wins—second place in the DPR competition, a first place finish by senior Ari Govan in the Alternates Competition (where individuals from different schools are teamed up), and Outstanding Student Achievement Award in the Mixed-Use category by senior Matt Millsaps.

Solid preparation contributed to SCU's success. For months the team held prep sessions with mentors from Devcon Construction, BNBT Builders, Blach Construction, Rudolph and Sletten, Cupertino Electric, SC Builders, and XRS Consulting. "We're very fortunate to have such strong support for an event that is a great proving ground for our students," Said added.

"After competing for the past two years, I know it has made an impact on my educational development," said Govan, who will be working for Blach Construction as a project engineer post-graduation. "It is an excellent way to gain experience and exposure to the construction industry as a student."

DPR team member Joey Novara agrees: "Participating in the ASC Competition as a sophomore was a great experience that gave me insight into the construction industry. I made a lot of new, lifelong friends in Santa Clara's civil engineering department. Placing second in the Determining Project Risk contest is one of many great college memories. I am looking forward to working with the team again next year."

civil engineering, Hisham Said, Ariana Govan, Matt Millsaps, Joey Novara