CM Team Captains

Each year, the Roger Williams University Construction Management (CM) program puts together three teams to compete in national and regional student competitions.  The Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) and the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) organize some of these competitions. RWU is a frequent winner in these competitions and below is an interview with 2015-2016 team captains.

After a firm handshake and brief introductions, three of RWU’s CM Student Competition team captains sat before me. Chris to the right, Brian in the center, and Josh on the left.

Interviewer: “Okay, so lets start with the basics because I don’t know what your team names are, or what exactly you do.”

Chris: “So, there are three separate competing teams in the RWU Construction Management program, and I am the captain of the Commercial Building team.”

Josh: “I am the captain of the Design Build team.

Brian: “And I am the captain of the Heavy Highway team.”

Interviewer: “Okay, so then each of you has a different aspect of the construction management discipline that your team focuses on?”

Chris: “Yea, so basically what we do is receive a request for proposal (RFP) and we are given a real life project that the judging company has actually built. What they want from us is a construction estimate and a schedule of the project along with other documentation to ultimately see how we are proposing to perform the given project.”

Brian: “We do practically the same thing, but the Heavy Highway team works on infrastructure, such as the roads and highways we drive on everyday to get to work.”

Josh: “So, we are a little different with Design Build. We have three CMs and three Architects, when normally teams have six CM majors. What makes us different is that we have Architects and CMs together planning and designing a building as a team. We optimize its cost, create a design and construction schedule, and provide job site logistics that also include addressing safety, quality, and risk management concerns.”

Interviewer: “Okay, so then have you all won any competitions in the past?”

Brian: “Last year, we came in third place, but in years past, I’m not sure how many times we have won it, but I think we may have won the heavy civil category three or four times in the past 10 years.”

Josh: “Well, last year we got first place in the Design Build competition, and I know the three years ago, all three teams placed first at the competitions.”

Brian: “And that’s what we plan on doing this year.”

The captains look at each other and laugh.

After this interview, Josh’s team would be declared the Northeast Regional Championship winners in the 2015 DBIA student competition. They also placed 5th in DBIA’s nationals.

Chris: “I joined the team last year and the team placed fourth in the ASC competition, in what was a very close competition.”

Interviewer: “So what exactly are these competitions like?”

All three captains laugh. Their minds seem to wonder off into a sort of dreamlike sense as they try and recall their last experience in competitions. After hearing the routines for these competitions, it was apparent why the captains laughed in synchrony.

Chris: “For the ASC competitions, we all drive down to New Jersey and we are given three rooms in a hotel. Two members per room and one of the rooms is bigger and we call it ‘The war room.’ Our competition is 12-14 hours long, and in that time no one really sleeps, we just work on this all night.”

Brian: “Its definitely longer than that! At eight in the morning we meet with our judges to get the project, then from 10 to 11 at night, we are working really hard to figure out how we are going to perform this project. It’s extremely stressful. It’s really time crunched. We yell at each other a lot. But, at the end there is a lot of relief because it feels like a big sense of accomplishment.”

Josh looks at his fellow captain and nods in agreement with a chuckle.

Josh: “We go through pretty much the same things as the commercial team, but we are given 16 hours instead because we have the Architects that are tasked with design. Our CM students work during the same time to complete their full proposal on how we will design and build the proposed project to the client’s full satisfaction. Afterward, for our presentation, we have eight hours, during which none of us sleep, we just use that time to prepare and practice our presentation to be given to industry judges.”

The captains have the same look over their eyes. It seems they have their game faces on. They know that in the upcoming weeks, they will be going through this grueling routine another time. Their minds are getting to a state where they can mentally prepare for the stressful but rewarding commitment.

Interviewer: “Wow that honestly sounds extremely hectic, do you feel like you benefit from it at all?”

Chris: “Oh yes for sure. This is what we would be doing in the real world, and sure they teach us all of this in class, but these competitions make our education so much better because they offer us real life experiences.”

Brian and Josh add in with agreeing statements.

Interviewer: “Okay, so what would be one final thing each of you would like to say about competitions?”

Chris: “I would just like to add how proud I am of my team. We have four new members because four graduated last year, so we have a relatively inexperienced team. They have all worked so hard and I would just like to emphasize how much hard work they have put into this and that I am so proud of them.”

Josh: “People think that we just do the 16 hour competition and then we are done. In reality, we are practicing and doing mock competitions on the weekends and are constantly prepping for this.”

Brian: “I just think that the amount of preparation work and the amount for stress that goes into each competition just shows how serious we all are about this.”

And with the same handshakes that initiated the conversation, they ended it. The three captains were now off to classes, breakfast, or back to their beds. In the backs of their minds however were thoughts of the upcoming ASC Region I competitions to be held in Morristown, NJ on November 12 and 13.

NOTE: At the time of this publication, we received the good news. All three of the RWU teams placed second among a total of 36 competing teams in the competitions. Congratulations.

This interview is conducted by Giovanni Pinto. A Broadcast Journalism major at RWU and the Social Media Assistant for RWU’s Construction Management Program.