California State University, Long Beach
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Construction Engineering Management Team’s Success

Published: May 1, 2015

CSULB’s Construction Engineering Management (CEM) recently placed in the 28th annual Regions 6 and 7 student competition of the Associated Students of Construction (ASC), its first placement in the event since 2010.

The second-place finish by a team of six undergraduate construction engineering management majors is meaningful for the department, said team leader Jett Horn, a CEM major who expects to graduate next fall.

“Every year we send between three and four teams to compete in various problem categories,” he explained. “Receiving second place in the Determining Project Risk (DPR) category proves that Long Beach has talented students who work hard and teachers who care about our success. In fact, this was our first time ever competing in the Determining Project Risk category.”

Construction engineering management program coordinator Hung Nguyen applauded the team’s achievement.

“The whole team was committed to the competition by making all the efforts in training and enhancing their knowledge in the field of Determining Project Risk,” he said. “It is noted that, although this is the region’s 6 and 7 student competition, the DPR competition was open to the nation and there were 31 universities participating in the competition.”

Horn is proud of his team’s success. “The hard work we put in before the competition really paid off,” he said. “I’m also proud of the fact that this was our first year competing in this category and that we were able to pull off the second-place finish.”

Team members included CEM majors Horn, Brad Oien, Rogelio Garcia, Drew Teicheira, Valeria Gama and Siegel Candia.

“We created roles and responsibilities for the competition and made sure every team member understood their part,” he said. Horn pointed out that CSULB had five teams in the competition including participation in the categories of Design-Build, Sustainable Building and LEED, Commercial, Determining Project Risk and Virtual Design and Construction.

“We prepared for the competition by having meetings on the weekend in the VEC building,” Horn recalled. “We used this time to review standard form construction contracts, drawings, specifications and subcontractor bids. We had Kris Nordback, project director at Newport Beach’s McCathy Construction, Inc., as our industry coach. He provided us with study material and gave us tips on our presentation. Without Kris helping our team I don’t believe we would have done as well as we did. I would also like to thank CSULB lecturer Denis O’Mahoney who spent time with us going over the details of standard form construction contracts.”

The second-place result was especially significant due to the ranking system of the ASC, said Oien.

“ASC lists the top three schools in each category on their website,” he said. “Getting our school listed on ASC’s website brings attention to our school’s performance from the entire construction industry, as well as construction academia in general. Since it has been five years since we’ve had a placing, this is highly welcomed and deserved.”

“We competed against some great teams and in the end it came down to a one-point spread, so it was really close,” Candia said. “During the award ceremony, we were told we had given the best presentation DPR has ever seen, so that was exciting. This being the first year Long Beach participated in the Determining Project Risk category, we’re all extremely proud to have brought back a trophy for our school.”

Garcia believes much of the credit goes to preparation.

“Preparation consisted of dry-runs, reading contracts and training with construction company executives and attorneys,” he said. “A lot of team discussions took place during practice and I think that it helped everyone because we shared our experiences from both work and school regarding construction, engineering and contracting. We also learned that multidisciplinary education is extremely important. For example, during the presentation, knowledge about cultures, maintaining relationships, all while giving a `performance,’ was necessary to win, in my opinion.”

A big part of the competition’s value is the opportunity it offers to network with industry professionals, according to Gama.

“It is extremely important for big names in the construction industry to attend the competition because it not only motivates the teams to put in 100 percent during the competition, but it’s your first impression as an individual seeking success in the large world of construction. To many professionals working for large construction companies, once you are there proving yourself individually and as a team, you are no longer just another student attending CSULB but a future employee and that is the best part of this competition.”

Horn believes success in competitions like these help to make CSULB the campus of first choice for tomorrow’s engineers.

“This competition is really important in making CSULB a desirable school to attend,” he said. “Schools that are successful in these competitions matter to the industry. They make CSULB students and the university something to be admired by industry professionals. Competitions like this make our school a desirable place for anyone looking to experience a top quality construction management education.”