Campus News

Students place first in national competition

NAHB national competition
Kirkwood students placed first in the NAHB national competition in Las Vegas, NV. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Students at Kirkwood Community College recently won first place for Associates Programs at the national competition for the National Home Builders Association. The following is a Q&A with Dave Becicka, construction management assistant professor; Joe Greathouse, construction technology professor and Miranda Bisping, architectural technologies major and student project manager.

Q: Can you give us a brief overview of the competition?​ 

Becicka: ​​This is the Introduction of the competition as provided by NAHB (National Home Builders Association): The NAHB Student Competition was established to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to solve construction-related problems and to compete with other institutions offering an associate degree in residential construction-related majors. Students work on a specific project by completing: a set of working drawings, a detailed material estimate and a complete construction schedule. The proposals are then submitted to a group of construction company executives who act as judges. 

Q: How long did the students work on the project? 

Becicka: The students were presented with the problem description on Sept. 6, and began meeting as a group to work on the project in early October. They typically met twice a week for approximately 4-8 hours. They continued to do this each week through finals week in mid-December when the project was due. In early January, they reconvened to begin working on their oral portion of the presentation that they had to have completed before presenting on January 31. Overall, I would estimate that the students each provided between 80-100 hours of time.​

Q: What are some of the main tasks that go into the project? 

Becicka: As described in the Problem Description each team is required to provide the following deliverables: Working set of drawings and details to support the drawings; material and labor estimate; construction schedule; construction management plan; alternate options and presentation. 

There were six students on the proposal team: Riley Keil, Construction Management; Miranda Bisping, Architectural Technologies; Alex Santos, Architectural Technologies; Devin Neufeld, Interior Design; Alternate Kenneth Dykes-Rankin, Architectural Technologies; Steel Starks, Construction Management. Construction Management instructors were Dave Becicka and Joe Greathouse.​ 

Q: How has Kirkwood placed in the competition in the previous years? 

Becicka: 2022 – first place, 2021 – did not compete (COVID), 2020 – first place.​ 

Q: What does it mean to you, as a professor, to see your students earn first place? 

Greathouse: The NAHB Student Chapter competition represents the highest level of competition for students in construction management and related residential professions.  We are beyond proud of their accomplishments. 

Becicka: Being able to work with this group of students has been an honor. Seeing them put in the extra time and effort beyond their normal class and workload to accomplish what they did is nothing short of amazing. They all have bright futures ahead of them.

Q: What was one of the most memorable moments as students worked on the project? 

Becicka: ​The first time they practiced their presentation before the Greater Iowa City and Greater Cedar Rapids HBA members. This was the first time you could really see all of the students time and effort come together and begin to see that they would have a good chance of finishing well. 

Q: Can you tell us about your invovlement in the project? 

Bisping: The NAHB Student Competition was an experience I will never forget. From beginning to end, there was always a challenge to overcome. I was the Team Leader/Project Manager of the project. I helped keep the team on track for the tasks that needed to be completed. I had helped with almost every part of the project. From the drawings to the estimate and I was able to put together the full schedule for the team. All of us had an important piece of the puzzle.  

Q:  What were some of the challenges? 

Bisping: I would say some of the biggest challenges was multitasking my everyday day life. I’m a mom of three kids. Their ages are 10, 7 and 3 and they are starting to get into extra activities themselves. I had a lot to shuffle around. My school, work, kids and even their school things, etc. I had to sacrifice time with my kids because I would end up in a team meeting till 9-10 p.m. at night working hard some days. Including the hour and a half ride home I would have afterward. I had to make sure I stayed ahead in school just to make sure I was able to pass. With all A’s thankfully.  

Q: What was one of the most memorable moments of the national competition? 

Bisping: I honestly think back to when I was doing it all and I really don’t know how I managed it. After everything we had worked so hard for, the win was extremely rewarding. The best memory I have from this experience is getting to know my teammates and becoming friends. We really stuck together and became a family. Even when we traveled to Vegas, we all stuck together, and we all experienced new and fun things together. 

The smiles and laughs we shared will always be treasured to me. We go through a tough life and knowing that we can surround ourselves with good people still brings peace to my mind. We should have been stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, we helped each other, and we all walked through this journey together. I honestly could have not asked for a better team.  

Obviously, when they announced our team for first place will always hold a special spot in my mind. I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished together. The experience cannot be put into words and all I can do is hope and encourage future students to join next year. You will meet new people and learn new skills that will further your career. 

Also, possibly meet someone to offer a better job just from being able to join and help. I went last year and wasn’t part of the team and I talked to someone who offered me a job in New York but I declined because my kids and family are in Iowa.

Image courtesy of Contributed