Kent State Students Win First Place at Regional Construction Management Competition
Experiential learning is a cornerstone for many classes with a professional focus. And that experience is paying off. Kent State University’s construction management team was awarded first place at this year’s University of Cincinnati’s New Builders Competition, the first overall first-place finish at any of the competitions the Kent State teams have participated in over the past 11 years.
In addition, the first-place finish has opened doors – and possible job opportunities – for the students of the program.
The Kent State team comprises five lower-division students and one upper-division advisor, as well as a professor advising students involved with the project. The team had to create a proposal for a building in downtown Columbus and present to judges at the competition in March.
Success at the competition was well-earned, according to Elizabeth Hathaway, a sophomore construction management major and lower-division team member.
“I was a little nervous, but we had such a good team that it took the pressure away,” Ms. Hathaway says.
Alex Berman, a junior construction management major, served as the upper-division advisor and led the team through the competition.
“I like being the coach and the leader,” Ms. Berman says. “I helped them with any questions that they had and gave them feedback on their project.”
Most students on the team were in the Construction Management Proposal and Development class or had already completed it. The class helps prepare students for competitions and the real world.
The team worked long hours to perfect the project.
“It is a lot of work; we would meet during and outside of class time,” Ms. Hathaway says.
Ms. Berman and Ms. Hathaway say the team’s success would not have come without the support and coaching from professors.
Anthony Mirando, a construction management professor and Kent State alumnus, gets to share his knowledge with new students.
“I graduated in 2011, and there were 25 people in the program,” Mr. Mirando says. “Now, we have around 250 undergraduate students and 20 graduate students. Over the past 10 years, we’ve gone from 25 to 250, and that is a pretty crazy growth.
Mr. Mirando served as the team’s coach for the competition this year, and he worked with them at every stage. Mr. Mirando says the success at the competition came from three pillars: alumni of the project, current students and construction management faculty.
“One, it’s the hard work of the students,” Mr. Mirando says. “Two, previous students help because we build off of them. Third is the faculty. We are slowly climbing the ranks in these competitions.”
As the years go on, the construction management faculty learns from each competition and takes all feedback back to the classroom.
Since Kent State placed high at this year’s competition, many doors have opened for the university and students.
“Placing higher at these competitions gets the program more recognition,” Mr. Mirando says.
The host of the competition, Danis Construction, took an interest in Kent State as a result of the team’s presentation.
“Danis Construction came up to me and said, ‘I want to interview every single one of your students,’” Mr. Mirando says. “Really, where I see the reward is when companies are like ‘wow, Kent State is up and coming.’”
Kent State will continue to send teams to competitions in order to grow and gain experience in the construction management field.
Ms. Berman and Ms. Hathaway plan to continue to participate in team competitions to gain more experience before they graduate.
“What we do at these competitions is exactly what we will be doing in the real world,” Ms. Hathaway says. “I think that since we had such a great team and we worked so hard. It sounds cheesy, but hard work does pay off.”
Although Ms. Berman is only a junior, she plans to come back to Kent State after graduation.
“I want to come back and talk to the current students and stay involved with my program,” she says. “I want to really make an impact on students.”