Building Science Students Compete in Virtual Competition
Every semester, students from the McWhorter School of Building Science compete in regional competitions hosted by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC).
Although the competitions were held virtually last fall, the students who participated benefitted from the experience in new ways.
Fall semester’s team had only three weeks to prepare for the competition instead of the months they’re accustomed to. “We threw it together very fast,” said team captain Cameron Mercer. “We really had to push hard and do our research early.” Once they received construction and contract documents from Lithko Contracting Inc., the sponsor of the competition, they had the material they needed to begin their work. “We started by doing an analysis of the job site, a review of the geotechnical report and a review of the logistics and how the surrounding area was laid out,” Mercer said. Competing in the open concrete category, the team set themselves up as a mock concrete subcontractor called Plainsman Concrete Services and created a jobsite-specific Request for Proposal. With team captain Mercer acting as the project manager, every team member was assigned a role in the company. Craig Stanford was project engineer, Reeves Brashear was superintendent, Macy Walker was virtual design manager, Matthew Hazelwood was design coordinator and Hudson Dorough was estimator.
Auburn normally competes in ASC Region 2, which encompasses the southeastern United States, but this year’s Region 2 competition was cancelled, so Assistant Professor Dr. Wesley Collins entered the team in an open category in Region 3, the Great Lakes region. Under normal circumstances teams have the opportunity to conduct on-site research, but competing in a different region meant a site visit was impossible. The competition’s challenge of designing a Midwestern manufacturing facility also meant dealing with some unfamiliar construction techniques.
The team benefitted from Zoom meetings with the project managers at Lithko every day. After a week of intense work, they presented virtually to a panel of judges in a socially distanced roundtable format, broadcasting from the conference room in the Miller Gorrie Center. Following competition protocols, Lithko Contracting then provided a presentation explaining how the real project was actually completed. “It’s fun to see where you were right and where you were wrong,” Mercer said. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the specially designed and equipped competition rooms in Gorrie Center got plenty of use last fall as students put their skills to the test in a safe and responsible manner.