Building blocks to victory: NAU Construction Management team places in three major categories at regional competition

Spending 18 hours on a Saturday developing a plan for how to build 10 miles of roadway in rural Alaska or designing a stable bridge on sensitive terrain may not be the way most people envision spending a weekend. For 25 students in the construction management program at Northern Arizona University, that practice led to overwhelming success at the Associated Schools of Construction Regional Competition in Reno, Nevada last week.

Four NAU teams competed against 53 other schools from throughout the nation and three teams placed in the top three at this competition, where students take on projects like estimating and scheduling a $277 million dam renovation project in Oroville, California. The projects, which sponsors in the construction industry create, simulate real-world construction projects. Teams had a little more than 24 hours to research, design, estimate and prepare bids for the hypothetical projects.

The long hours of work were a success—NAU took first place in the design build division, second place in the commercial division and third place in the mixed-use division.

NAU students show off their award.

Steven Safranek, a senior who participated in this event last year, was the project director for the NAU design-build team. Their assignment was to design a hyper-sustainable building on ASU’s campus with an $88 million budget, and the team members planned their strategy to the half-hour. Safranek said working from 7 a.m. Thursday until Friday at 4 p.m. was a challenge, but taking home first place and seeing the passion and dedication of his team pay off made it all worthwhile.

“It is a lot of work, so passion is necessary for this, or it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said. “Passion really drove our team to get things done, and some good music helped us along the way.”

Safranek graduates in May and will start working for Wespac Construction, an Arizona construction company based in Phoenix.

Professor Rob Bruner calls the mixed-use team a “Cinderella story” team. Taking home the third-place trophy, the six members were alternates for the three other teams and at the last minute formed a team of their own. This meant that although they had been practicing throughout the semester, they had not had the time to practice as a team for the specific mixed-use project.

“This team was an underdog by a long shot because of this, but we had incredibly talented students who I knew could perform well. They performed better than the majority of teams at the competition,” Bruner said. “I enjoy seeing the camaraderie of the students as they learn to perform as a team. As an NAU Construction Management alumnus and previous competitor in this competition, watching the teams celebrate victories over schools twice our size makes me extremely proud of our program.”

The four student teams that participated were each coached by a professor at NAU. The first-place design-build team members were Safranek, John Amorosi, Remington Brown, Alec Latino, Camryn Sweeney and Christopher Tovar. Professor Alan Francis coached the team. The second-place commercial team members were Tristan Clark, Tyler Coffey, Armando Maldonado, Kyla Phoenix, Josh Poindexter, Charlie Regester with alternate Arianna Charles. Professor Agnes Drogi coached the commercial team. The third-place mixed-use division team included Angelica Bernabe, Tanner Hunt, Logan Pool, Jessica Roth, Cameron Russo and Richard Ryan, with Bruner as the coach. The heavy civil team members were Isaiah Bell, Parker Braaten, Ryan Broyles, Erik Harding, Brycen Killion and Max Regan, coached by professor Kai Kaoni. The heavy civil team won a competition in late January making NAU the host school for this practice competition in 2021.

From left to right, the second and third place teams.


Northern Arizona University LogoMcKenzie McLoughlin | NAU Communications
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NAU Communications