Clarkson University Construction SPEED Team takes Second in National Competition
Following their first-place finish in regional competition in October, Clarkson’s Design Build (DB)/ Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design (SPEED) team has gone on to place second in the open problem category at the national level competition in Nevada in early February.
“The integrated problem category is widely considered the toughest category, which seeks to expose students to the most complex [construction] projects,” stated Fred Case, a project executive with the Clark Construction Group who sponsored and was the lead judge for this category. “It is the only project category that allows graduate level students to compete.” Clarkson’s team was edged by the second of Stanford University’s pair of teams that competed in the category and was the only pure undergraduate team in the competition this year of the thirteen that took on this challenge.
The ASC (ascweb.org) open categories at the Region 6/7 competition challenges construction students from across North America and beyond, to compete against other four year colleges and universities in a pressure cooker of scheduling, estimating, constructability analysis and knowledge of the construction industry. Teams compete in several categories ranging from traditional commercial construction or heavy civil construction to such new areas as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC).
“Clarkson far exceeded our expectations, especially given that the team only consisted of undergraduates and didn’t have any experience in high rise buildings,” offered Case. Clarkson was led by co-captains Zach Roegiers (CE ’19) and Francis Whaley (CE ’19) and included members Justin Brinkmann (CE ’19), Zach Hewke (Mech E ’19), Mallory Keough (E&M ’19), and Cory Schneid (E&M ’19). Zachary Gordon (CE ’18), who lead the team to victory in the Region 1 competition but graduated in December, served as assistant coach along with head coach James Billings (CE ’78).
In placing second, Clarkson’s team beat two teams from UC-Berkley, and other teams from such diverse institutions as Auburn University, UC-Denver, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Oklahoma, University of Southern California, and Colorado State. Of note, this was Clarkson’s first year competing in this category at the national level and, other than Oklahoma, every other team had previously competed in this category.
“This was a great experience,” said co-captain Francis Whaley, “one that I will remember for a really long time.” “Clarkson’s team had one of the best owner's meetings, demonstrating their professionalism, and had one of the top written reports in the whole competition,” offered the Clark judges during the awards banquet on Saturday night. “I had Dr. Brian Kleiner, of Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction, personally come up to me to congratulate our team for our accomplishment. He offered that he was really impressed with the caliber of what our students brought to the competition,” said coach Jim Billings. “Our whole team was treated like rock stars by everyone in the competition Saturday night, for what our students accomplished.”
Clarkson has now placed three years in a row in regional competition and this is the first at the national level. “The atmosphere at this competition is really awesome because of the amount of teams and the competitiveness that is present/the schools that you are competing against,” offered co-captain Zach Roegiers. “I would consider the time spent at the ASC competitions as my most valuable experience next to internships while attending college here at Clarkson.”
Clarkson’s Construction Engineering Management (CEM) program (https://www.clarkson.edu/page/concentration-construction-engineering-management) is one of several exciting programs within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and across the entire University. The sub-discipline of CEM focuses on the execution and management of engineering and architectural design projects. Clarkson’s CEM program offers, in addition to various professional development opportunities, a professional concentration within the Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, supporting a track in Clarkson’s inter-disciplinary BS in Engineering & Management, a graduate-level CEM Advanced Certificate, and both a Master of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering Management with a concentration in CEM. The program’s graduates have been, and continue to be, leaders on projects as complex as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island restorations in the 1980s, to the tallest residential building in NYC in 2016, to the largest highway projects in the State of Texas today.
Supported by an advisory board of corporate, foundation and individual supporters, the program seeks to be the premiere construction engineering management program on the rise nationally that is known regionally as among the best in construction education. It has done this, for instance, by being the first in NYS to offer a dedicated BIM/IPD course at the undergraduate level, providing co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences through community projects as part of the Clarkson CEM Consulting Group, and boasting a 100% year over year placement rate of its graduates in the construction industry.
“Being able to compete at the national level through SPEED teams, and beat competition from coast to coast, is precisely what Clarkson’s innovation and hands-on can-do culture and values enables our students to do,” said the Howard Lechler ’48, MS ’53, HD ’78 Director of Construction Engineering Management, Erik C. Backus. He went on to say that, “this kind of accomplishment is the norm for Clarkson students and why our corporate and other partners covet those that graduate from our programs,” and going further on social media on Saturday night stating, “[I] couldn’t be prouder of this year’s @ClarksonCEM #ClarksonU #Construction SPEED teams.”
President Tony Collins joined a chorus of Clarkson community members in offering heartfelt congratulations saying, “Wonderful news - congratulations to all. This type of effort really differentiates Clarkson above the competition.”